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A LOST Cause

I’ve updated an older post here – created when the government first starting to lose laptops. Now it’s becoming a habit and the MOD has managed to lose unencrypted details of 600,000 servicemen.. and they serious expect us to believe they are capable of looking after identity cards? Would you trust them with a SECOND HAND CAR?

Add to that the lost 3 million learner driver records and all the rest of the losses – all with minimal or no encryption. And what kind of response do you think YOU would get from the taxman if you said “oh, sorry, I lost my computer tax records” ??

I suppose I should prefix this by saying “thank heavens we’re in a democracy” – because at least we find out about this stuff – there is no way you’d ever hear about such losses from the Russians – they spend a generation blowing up their own space rockets without telling anyone so a few missed records would never make it to the press.

I recall my blood boiling about an earlier affair, wherein a hard disk went astray and the response from Ruth Kelly was “did not include personal data such as credit card or bank details”.

The problem with THAT statement is obvious to anyone who lives in the 21st century – the worry is not the odd loss of data, it’s the ACCUMULATIVE loss of data. the fact that these records contain name and other contact details makes it a snap to tie this up with other information. There are disks available on the web with the personal details of millions of individuals and half a million squaddies – add this information to the collective whole – and you can start to form a serious database on millions of Britons and SELL IT.

The problem is that once this kind of information is out in the public – it tends to STAY out. Anyone with an email address will know that once you make the mistake of making your email address available – you’re FOREVER going to get spam from all corners of the world – there is no “withdrawing” information – and although it’s easy enough to change your email address, changing your home address and other important information is NOT quite so easy.

In one of the earlier transgressions, the transport secretary said that the disk was “formatted specifically to the Pearson configuration” and was not easily read by third parties. It doesn’t NEED to be EASILY read, if it’s decoded ONCE the information can end up on the web for sale and end up in thousands of databases in a matter of DAYS.

So, does anyone REALLY still want an Identity card??? You’re kidding, right???

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