Another LapTop Missing: This Time, From Red Cross

DALLAS (AP) - A laptop containing personal information from thousands of blood donors -- including Social Security numbers and medical information -- was stolen from a local office of the American Red Cross, but officials said the information was encrypted.

The data included matching names and birth dates of donors from Texas and Oklahoma, as well as donors' sexual and disease histories.

"We haven't viewed this as a security breach at this point," Darren Irby, spokesman for the national American Red Cross office, told The Dallas Morning News for its Saturday editions.

The laptop was one of three stolen from a locked closet in the Farmers Branch office of the American Red Cross in May, but the two others did not contain the personal information. There was no sign of forced entry, said Red Cross spokeswoman Audrey Lundy.

Local officials alerted police and national Red Cross offices, Lundy said. Donors were not notified about the missing information, and the Red Cross claims it has no legal obligation to do so.

The laptops disappeared on two separate occasions in May, according to police reports. They could have been gone as long as a week before being reported missing.

Gordon Bass, acting chief information security officer for the national Red Cross, said supervisors have their own user names and passwords. Access is time-and-date based, so information can be accessed only during blood drives or when new information is uploaded to a central database.

The Farmers Branch Red Cross also lost a laptop with encrypted donor information in June 2005, Lundy said, but she could provide no details on circumstances of that incident or any follow-up investigation.

Security in the Farmers Branch office was tightened after the most recent disappearances, Lundy said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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