The UK government is making a run at the record books, but
not a very positive one. Britain's government, plagued by bureaucratic
fumblings, is setting new records in how many citizens' personal data one
country can manage to lose. Last month there was news of a record setting loss of 25
million citizen's records, which were sent in the mail by CD and
mysteriously vanished. "Catch Me If You Can" criminal legend
Frank Abagnale publicly suggested that someone had purposefully plotted to
steal the data, which included bank records, and succeeded -- due to Britain's
Now the UK officials are twiddling their thumbs and awkwardly trying to put a
positive spin on the latest shocking development; they have managed to
lose another 3 million citizens' data.
Britain's bureaucratic system electronically stores records for learner
drivers, including information on their vehicle, name, address, and other
personal information. Much of this information was privately contracted
for storage to a facility in Iowa, in the United States. This facility
revealed to government officials in May that it had lost a single hard disk,
which contained over 3 million records. The UK's Transport Secretary Ruth
Kelly, in turn, sat on this information and did not reveal it to Britain's
Parliament until this week.
She issued a short public apology, referencing fears of possible identity theft
that the victims of this latest bumble may endure, saying, "I apologize
for any uncertainty or concern that these individuals may experience."
Fortunately no banking or credit card info is included in the records, however,
a malicious party could use the information to apply for credit cards and
commit identity theft on a massive scale.
The loss is seen in Britain as another major embarrassment to British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown, and the Labor Party (LP), who are struggling with public
antipathy. The Conservative party is seizing the issue as a further means
to attack the struggling LP and build a lead into coming elections.
Security remains an increasingly hot topic, as everyone from nuclear plant
officials to everyday citizens continue to show a lack of savvy for protecting
themselves online. Between lax
data and network management procedures at government and business
facilities, to users
giving up personal information for an abstract sense of "trust",
threat to public and government security is not some malicious hacker, but
the users and officials themselves.
Britain is seeing the catastrophic consequences of this
ignorance, but it is unlikely to be alone as users struggle to separate real
threats from fiction and safeguard themselves in the 21st century digital
quote: I don't think the government really cares about losing money. After all, citizens don't hold politicians accountable for too much any more, and certainly making mistakes and paying out "compensation" is not anything that would upset the average US citizen.