Saturday, 30 August 2008

August news round-up

Data losses
There were three major data loss news stories this month. In the first, a member of staff at PA Consulting lost a memory stick containing the names, dates of birth and, in some cases, the expected prison release dates of all 84,000 prisoners held in England and Wales.

PA Consulting has also worked on the ID card project. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: "The public will be alarmed that the government is happy to entrust their £20bn ID card project to the firm involved in this fiasco, at a cost of millions of pounds to the UK taxpayer."

In the second case, a computer holding personal details of high street bank customers was sold on eBay for £35. Information including the bank account numbers, phone numbers, mothers' maiden names and signatures of 1 million customers of American Express, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland were reportedly found on the computer.

Finally, research undertaken by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that more than 3,200 laptops and mobile phones have been lost or stolen from Government departments since 2001. That's more than one every day.

It was also announced that the launch of the government's £224m ContactPoint database is to be delayed for a second time.

ContactPoint is a planned government database that will hold information on all children under 18 in England. Just days before the Telegraph reported on concerns that ContactPoint would be used to increase the criminalisation and surveillance of young people in England. Vickie Woods wrote, also in the Telegraph:

"I thank heaven I'm not bringing up three-year-olds any more but when I was the mother around here,I would have raged about a children's database. It's marginally worse than the grown-ups' database: the National Identity Register. That piece of lunacy was sold to me as a nice big present from the Government, to keep my identity nice and snug and safe and stop it being stolen by those vicious scofflaws, the global 'identity thieves'."

Jacqui Smith's 'secret police'
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith intends to create an 'extended police family' by giving 1,600 'accredited workers' sub-police powers (see below), according to the Daily Mail.

Community safety accreditation schemes, which were introduced under the Police Reform Act 2002, were set up to give civilians working in the community more powers to deal with the public.

Workers wearing special accredited badges are able to seize alcohol from underage drinkers, issue fines for graffiti and littering, and demand people's names and addresses.


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