25 Million Child Benefit Records Lost

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by eddyabs, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. eddyabs

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    This appalling error actually occurred here in Britain in October, when 2 discs holding the personal information of 25 MILLION child benefit records went missing, but only came to the British Publics attention 4 days ago. These discs contain the name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25 million people.

    And as if matters couldn't get any worse, now 6 more discs, containing information yet to be fully revealed have disappeared.

    Gordon Brown, our unelected Prime Minister, has apologised on behalf of a 'junior official' who sent the package containing the disc UNREGISTERED from the Governments HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenus and Customs).

    If these discs have fallen into the wrong hands, we all know the potential consequences (fraud, stolen identity etc), but what this really highlights is the absolute incompetence of this 'faux' Prime Minister (which is how I believe the majority of Brits see Gordon Brown).

    Click
    here
    to watch the David Cameron (leader of the opposition) rip Gordon Brown to pieces in Prime Ministers Question time at the House of Commons.

    It's High Drama.

    I really don't know how Brown can know possibly go ahead with the implementation of Identity Cards here in the UK....a scheme that the majority of Brits are very much anti. Brown tells us that the ID scheme will only serve to make us safer....where it now seems only obvious that this only gives more extemely personal data that the Government can 'keep safe'.

    First poll taken since the missing discs

    Obviously I despise Labour, and Gordon Brown, I just wanted to hear what other members (especially in the UK), felt about this act of terrible incompetence, and how it may reflect on the lives of these millions of British families here in 'Big Brother' Britain.
     
  2. dong20

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    What it demonstrates are poor procedures for the handling, control and transfer of personal information. The responsibilty for that lying with HMRC not the office of the PM. I'm no fan of Brown but to blame to PM directly for the mistake of a junior Civil Servant is somewhat misplaced, IMHO. Remember, the majority of Civil Servants are not Government employees.

    Again, your (or my) political affiliation isn't entirely germaine; partly because the Civil Service is (or rather should be) apolitical and also because I doubt many would be so naive as to believe such fiascos didn't occur under previous (Tory) administrations.

    On a side issue, what make you believe you speak for (or know the opinion of) the majority of the British people - other than your own expressed personal dislike of Brown? I suspect you're projecting to some degree at least.
     
  3. Jason

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    Loss of the personal data of 25 million people was just a small part of the week's cataclysmic disasters for Gord the Gormless. He had to deal also with the unprecedented event of five senior defence chiefs condemning his handling of finances to the military. Then there was the anger created by his malicious kick in the teeth to our soldiers serving overseas by making the minister responsible for defence a part-time job (he's also minister for Scottish affairs). Then there's the realisation that his governments mishandling of the banking framework allowing the run on Northern Rock bank and the subsequent government bail out is going to cost every man, woman and child in the UK £900. Then there's the failing housing market, and petrol at over £1 a litre (don't know what the convesrion is to US$ per gallon, but our American friends just cannot imagine how expensive this is or how it hurts. A smallish car costs £60 to fill the tank).

    Gord the Gormless has led us into uncharted territory of political and economic incompetance. He is unelected, bottled calling an election because he knew he wouldn't win, has no moral right to be prime minister. And he's ruining our country, economically, morally and in every way he can think of. Presumably he is going to ratify the EU constitution-renamed-treaty which noone wnats and which he promised a referndum on - all part of the deal to make Tony Blair first president of Europe.

    Radio 4 chat show this morning was caller after caller condemning him. Students think he is a joke. There's stuff in the Daily Mail (tabloid, right of centre) that is so extreme it is frightening.
     
  4. Jason

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    There's been a sea change in the last few days. Radio and TV programmes where there is audience participation are reflecting near uniform condemnation. His poll rating is a lot lower than a few weeks ago - my belief based on the present statements of people I thought were firm Labour supporters is that Labour's poll ratings are set to fall through the floor in the next few weeks.
     
  5. eddyabs

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    As a non-ministerial department of the British Government, to the contrary, ultimately any policies made within that dept will be implemented by the Government.

    In any given scenario, within any department of our Government, responsibility will ultimately be in the hands of the law makers.



    'Germaine'???? Sorry mate, I speak English!! And of course fiascos have occurred before, I'm old enough to remember, but that was then...this is now.

    I believe that the majority are, but maybe this post will shed some light on that......at least I am forthwith with my political (Tory) affiliations.:wink:
     
  6. eddyabs

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    This has hit Labour hard, and undoubtedly the polls will reflect that to a greater degree as the fallout from this shameful incompetence settles. Personally, I can't stand him, and in my eyes any PM unelected by the public holds no legitimacy.
     
  7. Jason

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    Of course legally he does have the right to be PM though unelected.

    If eddyabs thinks he holds no legitimacy, that's just eddyabs's view.

    If eddyabs and the conservatives think he holds no legitimacy, that's just politicians going for headlines.

    If eddyabs and the conservatives and labour supporters think he holds no legitimacy then we are in uncharted territory.

    On the basis of people I've been speaking with we are in uncharted territory.
     
  8. eddyabs

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    It seems, from the above quote, that this is not only eddyabs view eh Jase?

    That said, I understand that as PM he is legit, my point is that many people don't see it that way, a point that I'm sure you'll agree on.
     
  9. dong20

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    Errr, no you have that backwards; Government policy is formulated by Ministers and implemented by the Civil Service acting for the Crown. Civil Servants being servants of the Crown not employees of Government. The fact that HMRC is non-ministerial is irrelevent to the status of it's employees.

    Departmental policy is something different and that is what I believe caused this cock-up.

    Sorry, I don't know "in any given scenario" means in this context.

    As you know, in the UK Parliament formulates law, the Crown enshrines it. The judiciary, through the Police and the CPS (also non-ministerial) 'merely' enforce it.

    Are you implying the judicary is reponsible for the operational actions of the Civil Service, which I believe they are not, or do you mean something else?

    I meant germane, sorry. Typos are us tonight. :eek:

    Then and now - one administration is differentiated from another in terms of incompetence, arrogance and sleaze only by slim margins. I thought that was obvious, especially for one old enough to remember!

    You may be right, I was asking another question. Though that would be forthright, I believe.:wink:
     
  10. dong20

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    I agree, but not because I dislike him but because I believe he holds no mandate. If he was a Tory, and you liked him would you be saying this?
     
  11. eddyabs

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    I'm not going to go into in great detail the the longer post you made, only to say that it was Gordon Brown himself who actually merged the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise in 2004. Basically put, the Government obviously has control over its depts. Therefore the blame has to fall on the people who implement the laws within that dept, as you said, Government Ministers formulate the laws, and even if the Civil Servants implement them, the buck lies with the original law made....by the Government. And that 'buck' includes the encrypting and safe delivery of discs that contain the bank details and NI numbers of 25 million people. I personally know 3 families who claim child benefit, I don't need to tell you just how angry, and worried, they are feeling right now.

    Where else is the blame to lie...I'd be interested to hear as all the politicians and media corporations feel it's perfectly legit to lay that blame at the feet of Gordon Browns Government. If they have a legitimate reason, then I'd like to hear a legitimate differing reason from a non-politician that holds up.

    If you can come up with your own personal view on who should be to blame, perhaps you should petition the politicians with it?

    I hated Major (partly for the same reason as Brown initially), and wasn't too keen on Thatcher in all honesty...in general I dislike politicians, but my political views are Conservative.

    The reason I started this post was not to have a cross-political argument, but to place feelers out as to peoples reactions to this event, would be nice if we could carry that on.

    ps...I learnt a new word, Germane...thanks!
     
  12. Osiris

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    My main question is what moron sends something so sensitive and crucial to the national welfare via regular post and not courier. Who's flipping idea was it to install that guy in his job in the first place?
     
  13. eddyabs

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    That's if it was even a genuine mistake! And come on, this was sent unencrypted on a disc and by unregistered post. Either unbelievably moronic, or something much, much deeper. The point is, is that there should have been strict controls implemented long ago on the couriering of such vital and potentially destructive data. I just wonder how much more this will end up costing the taxpayer?
     
  14. Osiris

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    I hear you and I wonder the same thing too. It's a shame and a complete insult to the British public.
     
  15. eddyabs

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    Since Labour have been in power, I'm telling you Osiris, they realised George Orwell's Vision, here in Brighton, pop:300,000, we have more cctv cameras than in NYC. Big F***ing Brother Britain. The day they go, is the day I fucking party hard.
     
  16. Osiris

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    If you haven't read the graphic novel form of V for Vendetta, you should. Sounds a lot like you describe. Not to mention it is a great read and better than the movie.
     
  17. dong20

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    Yes of course Government has control over its departments, that wasn't my point - which was the there is a distinction between what departments are tasked to do (Government policy) and the operational systems and procedures they use to support its delivery (Departmental Policy). I probably have as jaded a view of politicians as you but that doesn't mean I'm going to blame a PM directly for the actions of a junior Civil Servant, HMRC internal data handling policy and the Royal Mail.

    In simple terms; ultimate responsibility for the operational performance of Civil Servants lies with the head of the Home Civil Service not the Government. The responsibility for any failure of a department to deliver a policy lies with the Minister. I will agree that with the Head of the Home Civil Service being appointed by Government it can be tricky to draw a clear distinction between the two but it's important to remember that the Civil Service is an instrument of Government a not part of it. There are very good reasons for that but this isn't a history lesson.

    Well, maybe but again, departmental policy on the transfer of information will likely have been responsible here, not Governmental Policy and certainly not the PM directly. The person who sent the disk will likely have been doing what he was asked to do, in the way he was asked to do it. To delve deeper here - does the blame lie with the Civil Servant, his manager or with Royal Mail who were, after all the ones who lost the disks!! The loss of data may be a breach of Data Protection (duty of care), but finding ultimate culpability may be tricky.

    I have sympathy with all those affected, but the reality is that far more serious omissions, errors and breaches occur on a fairly regular basis, this one has blown up because it became public knowledge. Those who think any personal information about them held by organisations, public or private is somehow secure or inviolable are welcome to that delusion.

    Again, we're talking ultimate theoretical responsibility here. If a benefit Giro* is lost in the post, should the case officer/department head/Minister/PM resign? - after all they're sent out unregistered post and a delay in receipt will have a far more immediate impact on its intended recipient than these disks.

    * Yes, I know most payments are direct now, it was an illustration.

    The immediate responsibilty lies with the Royal Mail, followed by the the person who authorised the insecure transfer of the disks. If that person was acting on departmental policy then the person who formulated that policy has responsibilty. The leap from that policy to the PM is extreme. While ignorance is a poor defence I seriously doubt that Brown had the first idea that such a policy exists (assuming it does).

    I felt and feel the same. My views are not conservative for the most part but I also try to separate my polictical views from the application of common sense.

    Then going off on a tangent about Labour having created an Orwellian nightmare in Brighton by the overuse of CCTV relates to the loss of these disks how?

    Responsibility for CCTV camera installation lies with Local Authorities not central Government. Now, go back to about 1994 (pre New Labour - Major Government) there was already an outcry about the proliferation of CCTV cameras in Brighton. Have a read of SchNews back issues.

    On the flip side; an article in the Argus in late 2002 reported a complaint that CCTV cameras were being underused in solving crime, and that in (for example) the installation of 6 cameras on the Moulsecoomb estate was supported by 95% of residents. Since the May elections the Conervatives are now the largest party in Brighton and Hove (though they don't quite have a majority) so let's see how many CCTV cameras they de-commission shall we?

    I'm just saying that of course you are entitled to hold your own opinion, but what you're not really entitled to do is assume you speak for others or represent their opinions. I can only ever speak for myself (unless I'm asked to speak for others).

    Two questions for you:
    1. Have you ever interacted with the lower to middle levels of Government - if so then you will probably understand that said employees merely follow guidelines, they don't formulate and rarely (if ever) challenge them, however bonkers they may appear when with the benefit of hindsight they get pulled apart after a foul up.
    2. I doubt he was employed with the sole intent of creating a pubic furore - he will have probably have been recurited in much the same way as any employee I suspect based on qualifications, experience and perceived suitability. Last time I checked private sector employees make mistakes too. Don't you agree?
    As an aside, it's a damning indictment of the postal service and it's interesting that none (so far as I can see) of the mud had stuck to RM, after all, they lost the disks, right. Also, in my experience couriers lose stuff too, in % loss terms perhaps they're no better than regular mail. I don't have figures to hand but can check if you'd like.
     
  18. Osiris

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    Funny you ask about me dealing with government. I interned at the Veterans Administration when my mother was an admistrator for them and yes, screwups abound in the middle to lower government offices where hindsight is 20/20. Oddly both my parents were government employees, my father even being a Postal Inspector.

    You are right, private sector employees make the same mistakes, but you can't equate the importance of this information with anything done in the private sector. Yes companies have suffered breaches of security due to inadequate electronic security or idiots losing laptops and the like, but repairing stolen credit card info is a lot easier than repairing a national database that were it to fall into the wrong hands, you would have an ID theft debacle of monumental proportions. I also feel there is a higher level of accountability in the private sector and that should be flipped. Government staff are dealing with sensitive materials and info. Why are we spending so much money in the US on the NSA, CIA, and FBI? So that we (hopefully) maintain a higher level of security in government. I can but hope it's working.

    As to couriers. In the US, they may lose things, but it is usually for other reasons other than theft or idiocy, plus with a courier, you have signatures, bonding, etc. There is a much higher level of accountability and a very easily tracable path back to who had their hands on the parcel.
     
  19. dong20

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    That's the beauty of hindsight, it's perfect.



    Yes I can. If Experian (for example) were to 'lose' their information it would at least as damaging as this. Were HSBC to accidentally lose it's customer databse how would that be less damaging to those affected in real terms?

    What's been lost here isn't a national ID database, because (as yet) such a thing doesn't exist in the UK - as single entity at least. It's certainly a strong argument against one, I agree!

    I'm not at all saying it isn't a cock up of monumental proportions, merely that it's the tip of an iceberg of data security mishaps that go on everyday and has been given extra mileage for purely political ends. One start towards tighter security would be to enforce personal accountablity for its use, I see precious little evidence of that in either public or private sectors.

    In principal I disagree about holding public sector employees to a higher standard. Put simply surely privacy standards on personal data should be absolute not dependent on the industry sector of those holding them, should they? That said, one could argue that with the underlying ethos of private sector data holders being financial - greater safeguards to deter the illegal collection and 'accidental' mishandling of such information for comercial advantage could be justified. Let's face it, we all know it happens.



    I can't speak to the efficacy of US couriers but isn't mail theft a Federal crime - does this apply to private couriers too? Tracking of a parcel is no real safeguard against theft, more a convenient tool to provide an illusion of security (and thus a selling point) for customers. There are signed for services provided by RM too, but I've still had items go astray never to be seen again.

    That said, I will agree that in general I do feel happier sending valuable items by courier but that's less because I feel they are inherently more secure but because I can enforce financial redress for loss or damage more easily, at least in theory.

    Do you have evidence to support this much higher accountability and or differing source of item 'loss' by private couriers v public mail? I'm not trying to be awkward I'm genuinely interested. Again, in terms of item volumes I wonder; are private couriers more or less prone to loss and/or theft?

     
  20. eddyabs

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    As the Government has control over its departments, again, therefore the buck will lie with the Government. (Please also refer to the end of this post).



    My point exactly, the Head of the Home Civil Service was appointed directly by the PM, so therefore where exactly do you think the blame should lie? Especially now as it appears the missing discs go somewhat higher than a junior officer.


    Discs

    But we are going round in circles I feel. In simple terms, why would Gordon Brown be standing in Parliament and defending his party, if he felt he/they were not to blame?



    Actually, it is not known which courier service sent these discs...currently the courier service TNT are being investigated.

    All very well suggesting such, to make such accusations, but they hold no sway without proof. The remark you make about personal information, I'm sure this occurs, but again, you are heading into the realms of conspiracy when you are making no direct accusation or example.



    No, the mailing company obviously should take the blame.....but this is not the point, as you already know, the person who sent these discs did so unregistered and unencrypted....and far from containing a weeks pension, these discs (again) hold the personal bank details, addresses and NI numbers of 25 million people....and your point is????





    Again, no.


    Actually, I was responding to Osiris....as the OP, I think I have the right to, and you already have proved within this post that you too are adept at 'going off on a tangent'.:wink:


    That's harsh. Of course I am entitled to hold my own opinion, it's nice to know that you assume to speak for me there. But please do state where exactly it is that I assume to speak for others?? Or are we sailing into the realms of tangents and conspiracies once more?

    To make my point clear as to why Gordon Brown may be more on the defensive for this huge and damaging blunder, I suggest you read this article about the gradual politicisation of the Civil Service since Labour came to power in 1997. In particular the 'fourth development'. Times change, and your argument about the Civil Service is dated. Now maybe you can understand why old 'Gord' is actually apologising.
     
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