Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How easy is it to mishandle personal data at the Identity and Passport Service?

There have been some interesting figures released in Parliament by the Home Office about how many people have been fired or disciplined for data protection breaches. The single biggest worry is that when you look at the table the only department that seems to investigate anything and/or fire anyone is the Identity and Passport Service.

In 2006/07 there were six disciplinaries and five dismissals for "Not following practice and protocols when handling files and databases containing personal information on members of the public", and in 2007/08 the disciplinaries rose to eight, and dismissals to seven.

The scary thing here is what these people were doing, how they were doing and what it implied to identity protection. As is well known, the Government claims that ID cards will protect your identity, but when the department responsible appears to have quite regular identity breachs in security it hardly engenders confidence.

The biggest issues I have always had with the notion of ID cards and the ID Register have always been two-fold. Firstly, you can get a new passport number easily, but you cannot replace your own biometric if they are compromised. Secondly though is the classic human error. What happens if you get deleted by accident (things happen with databases).

These figures, especially given they relate to the mishandling of data, suggest that the latter concern is more than justified. Roll on the election and the scrapping of the scheme under the Tories.

3 comments:

Old Codger said...

Dizzy wrote:

"These figures, especially given they relate to the mishandling of data, suggest that the latter concern is more than justified. Roll on the election and the scrapping of the scheme under the Tories."

I do hope you are right about Dave. I am not so sure. He has been awfully quiet on privacy matters. Mind he hasn't been making much noise about anything.

Houdini said...

You fan take this thread a step further.

How many medical professionals get fired for killing patients? How many policemen get fired for wrongful arrest or sheer idiocy?

Etc. etc. etc.

Forlornehope said...

You could conclude that they are the only department to take this seriously! I cannot believe that the same indiscipline is not rife across government.