Wholesale data theft

The loss of 25 million people’s personal records held by the UK tax authority illustrates the danger of keeping large, centralised databases.

Regardless of whether or not the data (which was burned onto CDs by a junior employee and lost in the post) falls into criminal hands and leads to wholesale identity theft, the sheer scale of the loss is cause for concern: for this database is not an anomaly. The current government is obsessed with building large-scale centralised databases such as the Children’s Register, the NHS ‘data spine’ and the national ID card. They claim that it’s more efficient to run society with one big, top-down centralised system. Actually, the gains in efficiency are negligible at best and the losses in terms of personal freedom are great.

If you don’t want a private company to have access to your personal details you can decide not to do business with them. The difference with the government is that you have no choice. I’ll be talking about this tonight at 10pm on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight.

One Response to “Wholesale data theft”

  1. Peter HOAR says:

    Heather – Sorry, missed the broadcast. I don’t think it’s alarmist to suggest it will be years before anyone can be reasonably certain they are not going to get fleeced. If it’s so easy to copy and send the info, how can anyone be certain this was not deliberate well-organised theft, dressed up as a foolish act ? The stuff will be well abroad by now and a months head start too. It would take years to work through the various scams on all that data. The lowly perpetrator will only get fired at worst, and could retire on the proceeds, (if not bumped off.) How come there is this “free for all” copying facility at HMRC that only relies on the word power of guidelines and trust ? Why allow any copying except in the secure room ? Why no software blocker that tells you (in a Dalek voice) “The operation you have attempted is illegal and has been reported to HMRC Security !” ? The blathering reassurances only make it worse. Peter HOAR

    burn i

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