Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Scared New World

It's all very well to keep going on about protecting liberty, and to make a big speech on security, and talk about how we live in a 'new' (5o mentions), 'modern' (14 mentions), 'changed/ changing' (19 mentions), world

- which is full of 'terrorists' (22 mentions) and 'terrorism' (10 mentions) and 'crime' (18 mentions) and 'criminals' (10 mentions) - in which the government is mad keen to be seen to be 'safeguarding the individuals right to be free'...because 'people are understandably fearful that they may become victims of a terrorist attack, (even though there are 2000 terrorists compared to 60 million of us on this island, so the chances are pretty slim...)

...but if someone could explain why I should feel safe and secure in handing over all my details to this Government, after the recent fiascos of secret files left on trains (twice in the last ten days), followed by Hazel Blears laptop being nicked, because despite their protestations about our right to security being so terribly important, they don't seem to have any idea of how to look after confidential data at all.

Either that, or the Civil Service are out to really get them.

UPDATE: Ha, excellent sketch in the Times

UPDATE 2: A superb fisking over at Septicisle/Obsolete


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention to loss of:

(a) 3 million DVLA records in December 2007


(b) the loss of the child benefit data fiasco -- October 2007

Why should we trust them a fraction of a millimetre with our personal safety and data?

June 17, 2008 7:38 pm  
Blogger MarkF said...

"Why should we trust them a fraction of a millimetre with our personal safety and data?"

But the issue isn't just government, we 'trust' a lot of large companies with data. We also put a lot of data on ourselves in the public domain in such places as Facebook.

Data is more portable than ever before, we can post it, email it, put it on USB keys (which are capable of storing more and more data in even more smaller form factors) and more and more of us deal with data.

At the time of WW2 top secret reports were treated with reverence now they are presented in the same manner as emails and Word documents. More and more of us deal with data and intelligence every single day.

We have all become too lazy and complacent about intelligence and data. A conspiracy by the Civil Service ? Probably not. Time pressured people working on a train; people needing data from third party IT suppliers who wont provide the information without charging the client resulting in a cheap job being done and corners being cut.

Intelligence and data are valuable. We need to treat them as such.

June 18, 2008 8:29 am  
Anonymous remember this story? said...

Tougher data laws needed, say MPs
Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas suggested more data losses might come to light
Reckless or repeated breaches of data security should become a criminal offence, a committee of MPs has said.

Currently, government departments cannot be held criminally responsible for data protection breaches.

But a report on the "truly shocking" loss of 25m people's personal details by HM Revenue and Customs, the Commons justice committee demands tougher laws.

The government welcomed the report and said it was considering measures to toughen up the Data Protection Act.

The committee found there was a "widespread problem" and "systemic failings" in the government's handling of personal data.

It is frankly incredible, for example, that the measures HMRC has put in place were not already standard procedure
Alan Beith
Alan Beith interview

Send us your comments

Its Liberal Democrat chairman Alan Beith said: "The scale of the data loss by government bodies and contractors is truly shocking but the evidence we have had points to further hidden problems.

"It is frankly incredible, for example, that the measures HMRC has put in place were not already standard procedure."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, who gave evidence to the select committee, was warning of more personal data loss cases "in the pipeline".

Criminal value

"(Whitehall) departments are coming to him on almost a confessional basis, quite rightly, to report that they too have got problems."

Mr Beith added: "It's a very serious situation and it impairs the proper use of data, which is often very important both to individuals and in areas like child protection and dealing with criminal behaviour."

Proper data protection was still not routine, he warned, despite its "potentially immense value" among criminals.

Parliament is currently considering proposals to amend section 60 of the Data Protection Act through the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill
Ministry of Justice spokeswoman

The report follows the loss of child benefit data on two discs sent unencrypted by HMRC in north east England to the National Audit Office in London.

Further data losses have emerged as a result of investigations into how Whitehall handles people's details.

As well as new criminal laws, the committee wants stronger enforcement powers and better resources for the information commissioner.

'Proper policing'

It also called for a legal obligation to report significant data losses to those affected and to the commissioner.

And MPs said the need for a "proper approach" to data handling was even more important given the proposed database of every child in the UK, the proposed identity card scheme and moves to allow other EU member states access to data held in the UK on UK citizens.

The prime minister and chancellor apologised over the data loss row last month and an inquiry is under way, alongside a police investigation.

Millions of families were told to be on the alert for fraudulent use of their details, which include children's names, addresses and dates of birth and National Insurance and bank details.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the need to strengthen data protection laws had been recognised before the child benefit discs were lost and a review had been commissioned in October.

"Parliament is currently considering proposals to amend section 60 of the Data Protection Act through the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill," she said.

"This will provide a custodial sanction as well as the existing fines for those found guilty of unlawfully obtaining or disclosing personal data."

June 18, 2008 8:32 am  
Blogger beaubodor said...

Ah, but it is those nasty liberals who are the fear-mongers - about cameras, ID Cards and detention.

That is, according to David Blunkett in today's Sun :
"Those who object to our defensive measures live in a world of exaggeration, hype and fear-mongering."

link here with much more BS

'You could not make it up.'
'Words fail me.'
Both phrases © Iain Dale

June 18, 2008 3:20 pm  
Blogger Philip said...

Rachel, your link to Obsolete is circular. You women and your navigational abilities - ha, say I. Ha, and again ha.

June 18, 2008 10:45 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Ha and again ha. Amended

June 19, 2008 8:28 am  

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