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Hands up those who thought their data was safe...

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offline Burnham Lad

Burnham Lad
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With thanks to silicon.com's weekly Round-Up.....

"Time heals all wounds. And over at the head offices of HM Revenue & Customs, life is returning to normal.
After all, there are small businesses and middle-class citizens to tax heavily.

Life is good again. Best of all, almost no one mentions the 'incident' any more.

The tax inspectors can get back to taxing, the administrators back to administrating and the press officers can get back to eating solid foods and not screaming when the phone rings again and again and again. Maybe even time to shift the furniture around perhaps?

Mmm, nice.

No wait, hang on: the minister has just announced that more than 600 staff at HMRC have been disciplined for snooping on personal data. Your data. There go the phones again, pass the straws. Nurse! Nurse!

Apparently 192 staff had been disciplined last year, 180 in 2006 and a whopping 238 in 2005.

The HMRC has discussed 11 data security incidents involving customer information with the Information Commissioner's Office since April 2005, has stopped data transfers unless there is a business critical need, and now demands adequate security protection for the transfer of bulk data on removable media such as CDs and memory sticks, Treasury minister Jane Kennedy said in a separate answer (which the Round-Up would like to think was supplied on a couple of CDs in an unmarked jiffy bag with a torn stamp).

She added the 'data guardians' brought in to shake-up data security at the HMRC did not have power to operate outside of the existing HMRC chain of command and that business unit directors and the HMRC chairman retained ultimate responsibility for data security. So it's very much chocolate teapot time then, thanks to a classic bit of civil service, red-tape poppycock.

According to the written answer, the minister added: "HMRC has a strict policy forbidding staff to access customer records, unless they have a legitimate business need. Breaches of this policy are taken seriously."


A shadow home affairs spokesman said he was shocked that "so many public officials have been sacked or disciplined for abusing people's private details".


And to think, only this week the House of Lords supported a hasty amendment to the criminal justice and immigration bill which would make it a criminal offence to carelessly release or lose personal data..."

Don't worry, ID cards are quite safe in their hands, perhaps, maybe, well not really!

offline Darter

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We are all being lulled into a false sense of security. We have given away our rights so easily IMO.

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