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Commerce Department counts 1,100 missing laptops

U.S. government agency adds up past five years' lost or stolen notebooks containing personal Census Bureau data.

More than 1,100 Department of Commerce laptop computers were lost, stolen or missing in the last five years, and some contained personal data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the department said.

Of the 30,000 or so laptops in the department's inventory, 1,137 were missing, and of these, 249 contained personally identifiable information, according to a statement on Thursday.

The department said it was "not aware of any data being improperly accessed or used" and noted that access passwords, complex database software and encryption technology limit the potential for misuse of such information.

However, a separate review found 297 cases since 2003 in which sensitive personal information was lost or compromised, involving 217 laptops, 15 handheld devices, 46 USB flash drives and documents or other materials, the statement said.

In June, the Department of Defense revealed that personal information on about 2.2 million active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops was stolen from a government employee's house.

That followed the theft of data on 26.5 million U.S. military veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.