Blown To Bits

“Mistakes Happen”

Monday, November 3rd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

So reassures the mother of Daniel Harrington, who apparently lost a memory stick in the parking lot of a pub in England. Harrington works for an IT firm that supplies services to the British government. The flash drive evidently contained not personal records, but source code and passwords that might enable someone to access those personal records. As a result, the “Government Gateway” system has been shut down.

The device was found a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday was turned over to the Daily Mail, which is having a lot of fun with the story. A sample of the reactions:

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the civil rights group had conducted an audit which showed that the Government had lost 30million pieces of data in the past year.

‘That’s one data bungle for every two people in the country,’ she said. ‘Still they plough on with their Big Brother ambitions; ID cards and the scary central communications database: disasters waiting to happen at our expense.’

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker said the Government were asking for data from taxpayers that they could not protect.

‘The Government cannot be trusted with all this information but they collect more and more,’ he said.

I’ll bet these data breaches are no more common in the UK than in the US, but they certainly have had a bad run of them lately, and you can see why the MP is worried about the government’s plans.

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