Data loss – how much more before they see the need to cancel the ID computer?

You would have thought after all the fuss over data loss so far under this government Ministers would have got a grip by now. The hapless Home Secretary once again has to apologise for the incompetence of her department, after all her lectures and promises to have put it right. This is another serious data loss. It shows Ministers are not in control of their departments.

The more this government takes action to make us “secure” the less secure I feel. I will feel a lot less secure if they carry on with their ghastly 1984 plan to put us all on a central ID computer base, at enormous expense to taxpayers. We might as well publish all our personal data the day it goes live, on their record so far with other people’s data. If The Home Secretary wants to keep her job she shouold cancel the project so we can dance in the streets about that, if nothing else.

This is one reason why Parliament should be allowed to sit – to cross examine her. The war in Georgia is another.


  1. no one
    August 22, 2008

    the public sector has no clue how to run big IT programmes

    it has no clue how to buy large IT programmes

    and it hires the wrong people to advise them how to run big IT programmes

    one of the biggest problems with large Govt IT programmes in the defence or secure area, which the national ID card programme system is as it has many levels of security classification, is the idiots who police and implement the various security requirements

    mostly UK govt security requirements imposed on IT programmes are full of nonsense, lack of pragmatism, and normally policed by security consultants who are dominated by failed members of the forces, ex army officers and naval officers who were poor at leadership and were given some grounding in IT security before they left the forces

    I wont be carrying an ID card anytime soon, what they gonna do lock us all up?

    In the same way as the centralised vision for IT in the NHS was a poor business approach from the beginning and many of the best vendors walked away from procurement the same has happened with ID scheme

    And Patricia Hewitt is now on the board of BT, the company (charging -ed) the UK tax payer for the nonsense of nhs IT, the plug on this nonsense really needs pulling asap, IT in the nhs should be bought and selected by small business units which are competing with each other not centrally


  2. DennisA
    August 22, 2008

    It amazes me how quiet the media are on ID cards. It seems as if the government has issued an (I)D notice on the matter. The BBC of course has been scared stiff since Hutton and it shows in everything they do, but the rest of the media?

  3. Freeborn John
    August 22, 2008

    We quite often hear reference to new technology as a potential threat to our ancient civil liberties. Databases, CCTV, wire-taps etc. allow the state to do things that it could not do before but when is this a real treat to civil liberties and when is it just enhancing the efficiency of a legitimate state role?

    If there are CCTV cameras watching over public spaces throughout the country does this impair the civil liberty of someone lawfully going about their business in those spaces? I might say that my liberty is actually increased if the police can better protect me from harm or offence that might be perpetrated against me in that place which the police might otherwise miss without the aid of CCTV. Of course if the criminal law is paternalistic or prohibits activities that harm no-one but offend moral authoritarians (e.g. prostitution, gambling, blasphemy etc.) then CCTV would be a powerful tool in the hands of such an illiberal state, but the root cause of the problem then would be the illiberal legislation and not the CCTV. But is it as clear cut as that? If CCTV is simply a better set of policeman’s eyes then why should the state not put up microphones everywhere and listen in to conversations in public places? My instinct tells me that would be outrageous, but I am not sure how it differs from CCTV (except perhaps that it might not be so effective in preventing crime than CCTV and would be more invasive into private matters).

    The public sector presumably needs to keep lots of data on the public to fulfil its activities and the most efficient way to do that today is to hold it in electronic databases. Naturally such databases should be secure, but probably data got lost in the days of filing cabinets and punched tape. The technology today allows far more data to be kept (and lost) but when do these databases become a threat to civil liberties? I would say that (as with CCTV) it is when the underlying legislation it is intended to enforce is illiberal. I have no doubt that the police being empowered to go around demanding that we produce ID cards at their command is an infringement on civil liberties. Therefore this database is no simple efficiency scheme but part of a staged plan to compel us to carry such cards, and should therefore be rejected.

    1. mikestallard
      August 22, 2008

      The answer to your thoughts must be this:
      I was a teacher (temporarily) in a tough North London Comprehensive. The witty Latin teacher (then transferred to teaching English as a token Gay ) was asked to design a School Motto. he came up with "Tua Mater". This was the worst threat that these oiks could utter. "We know where your Mum lives….."

    2. Kay Tie
      August 25, 2008

      There is an aspect of "the database state" that isn't being addressed very well, probably because it's a bit technical. And that's "How is the database indexed?"

      The keeping of mobile phone call records is held at the mobile phone companies. Your phone can place you in an area at a particular time. So when the police have reason to suspect you, they can get this data from the company and put you in the area (or discover your alibi).

      The Home Office wants the mobile phone companies to put all the data into their hands (and all the ISPs) so that it can be searched under a whole number of criteria, few of which are based on reasonable suspicion. For example, "give me a list of all the people outside this shop on Friday and who visit John Redwood's blog". Today, with the way the data is held, that gross "fishing" can't be done. With the Home Office proposals, it can – and will. This, for me, is the biggest and worst step: putting data in one place in the hands of Government to be searched at will for "interesting" patterns (which no doubt will lead to a Forest Gate style kick on the door at 6am).

      We are seeing with the ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) system, the ISP/phone call database, the ID card database 'audit trail' (i.e. a complete log of where and when the ubiquitous card is used) the construction of a "know everything" database in the hands of the Home Office. The opportunity for abuse boggles the mind.

  4. Derek W. Buxton
    August 22, 2008

    CCTV cameras rarely if ever prevent crime, they might, just possibly, bring the criminals to justice (another default line in the system), after the event. Not much help if you are dead. You should also note that this administration is indeed illiberal, the councils are using laws to fight terrorism to harras their own population for stupid things. And this will only get worse, the police state is looming.

  5. mikestallard
    August 22, 2008

    The maddening thing about all this loss of data must be that nobody ever is responsible. Nobody resigns. Nobody is punished. Nobody seems remotely to care or to do anything much about it.
    I listened in disbelief to the sacred words of Sir Gus O'Donnell today at 1.00 p.m. There were all the right noises. But what was done about them? Precisely nothing.
    If I were guilty, as a teacher, of even releasing one child's address to the wrong person, I should be publicly Glittered. But here is the Home Secretary smiling away when ALL the criminal records have been released along with, apparently, all those of the people on Remand too.
    I simply do not understand how she can live with herself, having exposed a lot of people to recriminations of the most savage kind. Would you be happy if, say, you were the parents of a drug pusher who was in debt to the barons?

    The maddening thing about ID cards is that they are wonderful. My son had one in Spain to allow him to get through Airport Security in no time. Mind you, it cost him £75.00 and it was issued by a special company that he could trust.
    I just do not want Jacqui Smith or anyone else I do not trust (with extremely good reason based on firm precedent) having my details to broadcast all over the world wide web and within "the criminal community".

  6. DiscoveredJoys
    August 22, 2008

    Without getting too philosophical, the problem with the current government is they see the data of the population as 'theirs'. It is theirs by the 'divine right' of those who govern.

    In truth the data about me is mine. The data about you is yours. The government have no 'divine right' to the data and are only holding it, with our agreement, to make government more efficient.

    I expect that if people had an automatic right to compensation (I know, I know) of £1,000 per data loss, or alternatively some of the bigger bosses faced a day in court, the governmnet would rapidly shake its ideas up about the amount and security of the data it is supposed to safeguard.

  7. adam
    August 22, 2008

    (The Home Sec – ed) is useless.
    Crying on TV when theres a terrorist attack, complaining to the media she is too scared to go out at night, now shes trying to get Gary Glitter back and keep him here along with all the other dangerous criminals she refuses to deport.
    Utterly useless.

    Im convinced she doesnt even know what her job is supposed to be, she just thinks shes got a fancy job in London that makes her very popular at dinner parties.

  8. adam
    August 22, 2008

    I agree intention is a key issue.
    The problem with labour is everything is relative, there is no good and evil, no right and wrong, no law abiding and criminal.
    Instead everyone is a potential criminal… even before they are born. Everyone is under suspition.
    Which is why everyone must carry an id card.


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