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Gordon Brown says your data will never be completely safe with the Government

Posted on November 3rd, 2008 at 15:38 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy, Security -- Write a comment


The Prime Minister conceded that some losses of sensitive data are inevitable because human error cannot be entirely eliminated.

Mr Brown made the candid statement after it was revealed that a memory stick containing information said to give access to Government tax and benefits records had been lost in a pub car park.

The loss of the data storage device forced officials to suspend the main Government Gateway website, used by 12 million individuals and companies to deal with tax returns, benefits claims and other sensitive Government issues.

Officials insisted that there been no risk of personal records being obtained by unauthorised users, but the incident, the latest in a string of similar losses, deepened ministers’ embarrassment over the handling of Government data.

In the wake of the latest incident, the Prime Minister promised that Whitehall rules on data handling would be toughened yet again. Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, is writing to officials about how they manage sensitive records, he said.

But Mr Brown added: “I think it’s important to recognise that we can’t promise that every single item of information will always be safe because mistakes are made by human beings.”

Dear Gordon: let me hand you the perfect method to keep all the information safe: don’t store it in the first place. As a side benefit, people will stop accusing your government of being Big Brother. Your country has managed to do fine for centuries without storing everything about everybody.

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