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Sat 24th Nov 01:37 2007: HMRC: 25m personal records lost (and a terrible pun...)

discount tentAs I'm sure everybody knows by now, HMRC lost 25m personal records of UK citizens eligible for child benefit (7.5m families; data including name, address, DOB, NIN, bank/building society details, and the like. Two CD-ROMs were sent in the internal post (via TNT) from HMRC to NAO. The parcel didn't turn up, so the CDs were reburned and resent, and happily (?!) arrived. It seems that this happened earlier this year, in March, but the media arrived, so we didn't hear about it. Tonight, it transpires that the data had subsequently been sent from NAO to KPMG. They claim they've deleted their copies of the data now (honest!).

The media haven't gone into the detail of why password protection means nothing when the data isn't encrypted, but - in a nutshell - when there's no encryption to protect, there's no need to bother with a password.

The analogies to ID cards are too obvious to mention; I can change my bank account number, but I can't change my fingerprints or iris patterns (and even if I could, they would still remain in the hands of the unintentional recipient).

Still, this is all old news by now, it happened a few days ago. It's not really worth blogging, except for this: A listener of BBC Radio 4's Today programme suggested that this was not - as has been suggested - Gordon Brown's "Black Wednesday", but rather, that "Now is the winter of our disk contents"

I said it was a bad pun....

Update:The Child Benefit 'Personal Details' form (found via comments in the above blog - well worth reading)

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