02 December, 2007

Huge Data breach in UK opens further questions about National ID card scheme

UK Government's Customs and Revenue mailed 2 CDs for 7 million citizens who receive child benefits from one end of the country to the other. Unfortunately, the CDs become lost in the post. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown had to stand up in Parliament and apologize profusely for the department in question 'not following the proper procedures'.

Side note: For the opposition party, it was a wonderful opportunity to pour scorn on the Labour Party. It was a situation, delightfully described in the Guardian:
This wasn't just shooting fish in a barrel - it was harpooning a porpoise that's got into your bath.

Anyway, the real issue is that it raised further concerns about the controversial National ID card scheme. As Nick Robinson from the BBC writes in his blog:
What is clear to me is that the public would like to see the information they provide guarded like a dangerous virus in a lab. In reality, there is clearly a culture of casualness toward it which allows one man, apparently, to copy 25 million names and details onto two discs and chuck them in the post.
Clearly, the vulnerability in the system is most likely to be human or systematic. This ID card initiative has many, many tortuous turns to make before it becomes reality.

Much harder (ideologically) to implement in Europe than in the US and even harder in the UK, given its suspicion of centralization.

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