Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Door wide open?

It's all a matter of trust. When an individual offers personal information to one of the many departments of the state it should be secure. When the same individual is required by law to give information then the level of responsibility from the state to the individual increases. The fact is the state and numerous parts of the bureaucracy have failed totally to protect our data. This we can see based on evidence from the inquiry called Operation Motorman, (see link below).

So who has let us down, who can no longer be trusted? The police, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMP), the National Health Service (NHS), many Local Authorities, banks and British Telecom.

It is clear that no data held by any authority, company or organisation is safe. And yet still the government fails to understand the problem; also the Information Commissioner's Office seems to have neither the resources nor the will to do something about this despite being responsible. Perhaps also the ICO is mindful of the fact that the government wants a huge database at any cost or risk and lacks what it takes to challenge this.

So who has been doing the phishing, who is after this data and is prepared to pay anyone to get it? Well the list reads like a roll of honour (?) of UK journalism: the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily and Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, and The Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World, plus numerous other periodicals, magazines and broadcasters. But the funny thing is we find the Observer is also involved.

The Observer is part of the Guardian Newspaper group, is not doing very well and may be closed. However, its position on the list of the guilty prevents any large circulation title, including the Guardian, doing the holier-than-thou act. The illegal gathering of data is a fact of UK journalism, but then so is the illegal leaking of data by government and its agents.

And what of the future? Little will change, the government is determined to press ahead with the ID card scheme and amalgamation of as many databases as possible. Operation Motorman has shown it is both cheap and easy to get data. Never has it been such a good time for crooks and terrorists who wish to profit from stupidity; the door to our personal data is wide open.

See also here.

No comments: