British Justice Ministry loses 45,000 sets of data

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If losing data would be an Olympic discipline Britain sure would be topping the league table for gold medals. Shame that this is not something to write home about really. But it nigh on has become a sports discipline of the authorities in Britain to lose sensitive data of its citizens. And then the people should trust them with the data for a national bio-metric ID card. Methinks not.

Once again has a department of the British government – in this case the Justice Ministry – lost sensitive data, thousands of them, without the faintest idea as to where those currently reside.

If ordinary businesses would treat data in such a lackadaisical manner they would find themselves prosecuted – and rightly so – by this very same government. When it itself, however, treats data, which is even more sensitive than “mere” credit card details, in such a manner nothing seems to be happening at all.

Slowly but surely the reliability of all government departments in the UK are being called in question seeing how one scandal chases the other and more often than not such a scandal has to do with the loss of sensitive data of the people.

The Justice Ministry has now become part of the long line of UK government departments that are incapable of securely store, retain and protect the sensitive data of the people of the British Isles which they have been entrusted with. Around 45,000 sets of data have been lost by the said ministry, and those include the date of birth, the national insurance number, the extracts from the criminal records, as well as, in many cases, also bank details. Wost of all in this is that 30,000 of those people thus affected have not even been informed by the authorities as to the fact that their details have been lost in such as way because the department reckoned that the loss of such data – despite the fact that it is, so we understand, unencrypted, as per usual with the British government – did not pose any risks for those whose details have been lost. Oh really? This government is getting more and more incompetent and it really expects people to trust it with information. They really do not live on this planet, I am sure.

This all points, yet again, to the apparent fact that the British authorities seem to have absolutely no interest in proper protection of the personal data of its citizens.

Not so long ago 1,000s of new blank passports – the kind with the chip – have been stolen and the people were told as well that there is no problem there and that those passports could never be used. Well, tell that the hackers that have managed to get into the chips and are thus able insert any data that they desire.

The British government, including its intelligence service and defence ministry, must be holding the world record in data loss, at least in the loss of unsecured data.

Apparently, with reference to the first – reported one – of these incidents when millions of sets of data of child benefit recipients went missing, the reason that those two CDs with all the data were not encrypted is because the two departments have different encryption programs and neither can read the other system. HELP!!!

Oh well, maybe one day we find all those sets of data again, somewhere. Let us then just hope that no one in the meantime makes use of the material on those disks and laptops for criminal or terrorist goals. I think praying might be in order here to which ever deity the reader may chose.

© M Smith (Veshengro), August 2008