Oops, They Did It Again

Clearly the Government chooses its contractors on the basis of the cheapest bid, without any regard for little things like competence. Many of the security and information breaches over the last couple of years have been by EDS. This time it is by Atos Origin.

A memory stick containing all the confidential pass codes to the tax websites was found in a pub car park. As a result the Government had to shut down access to driving licence applications, VAT returns, pension entitlements and child benefit.

The Prime Minister has now even admitted the government cannot promise the safety of personal data entrusted by the public. He has not changed his plans for ID cards for everyone, which security experts have said will be hacked almost as soon as they are issued. So the Prime Minister is saying that even though the data will be completely insecure and unreliable, and will be used illegally to the detriment of an incalculable number of citizens in terms of financial loss and identity theft on top of the usual invasion of privacy, the Government must have it to control terrorism and immigration.

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There Was a Kernell of Truth After All

There are a few, mostly conservative, blogs that have picked up the story about David Kernell being indicted for hacking into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account. Strangely when it comes to mainstream media, more quality outlets in the UK seemed to have picked this up than their US counterparts.

Now I can understand how Barak Obama’s ties to terrorist William Ayers have trumped the Kernell/Palin coverage, but still you think there would be more. Kernell is, after all, the son of a Democratic lawmaker. His alleged actions constitute a crime. He breached the privacy of a Vice Presidential candidate.

When Kernell wass first suspected, liberal bloggers immediately cried foul and said conservatives were just jumping to conclusions and trying to pin this on Democrats. Any retractions from the liberal blogosphere?

Right to Privacy or Piracy?

For the Left, a woman’s right to privacy extends to the distinct organism that may be temporarily living in her womb, but not to her emails. Well, at least not if she is a Republican. Wait, come to think of it, she doesn’t even get the right to privacy over her womb, either.

There is much ado about the fact that hackers broke into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account. The Left are quite proud of the illegal activity of their compatriots – activity that if it involved the account of a Democrat would be part of the great Right Wing Conspiracy and just further evidence of the corruption of the Republican Party. Shades of Watergate and all that, I dare say. But since it is the much-hated Mrs Palin, she’s fair game.

The only problem is that Sarah’s email doesn’t divulge a smoking gun. The Left want to regulate what sort of people can say what sort of things in their private email, so if Sarah said anything relevant to her position as governor, they believe the public (meaning left-wing hacks who are looking for ways to chip away at the McCain-Palin ticket) should have access to it. They have therefore tried to insert what they can between the lines to make the emails juicier.  The general tenor of their approach seems to be, “She’s a Republican, she’s conservative, she’s a Christian for pete’s sake. There’s gotta be some muck that will stick to her. If we look hard enough, surely we will find something.” They have, after all, thrown everything at her.

Since the policies and values of the Republican Party generally, and Palin specifically, resonate much more with the American people – the ones denigrated as stupid idiots in left-wing blogs – liberals are left with trying to find scandals. They can’t win on policy. They can’t win on experience. Their empty message of change has been usurped by a substantive message of change – not change for the sake of it, but change to those things that need further reform or adjustment.

And they have to hack into Palin’s emails, because Obama’s campaign made sure we knew that John McCain can’t send them. Why they wanted to make fun of the the fact that he can’t use a computer keyboard because of the injuries he suffering in Vietnam, I don’t know. It’s apparently part of their strategy: “Don’t vote for John McCain, he’s old and he’s crippled.”

Republicans aren’t hacking in Barak Obama’s emails. They don’t need to. It’s pretty obvious there’s not going to be anything in what he says in private. After all, there’s not anything to what he says in public.

Running Out of Things to Lose

It was only a few days ago that I commented on British Government losing all of the confidential data on every prisoner in the UK. Now it has been revealed that they have lost the details on 5,000 employees of the justice system. This information was on a hard drive.

How do you lose just a hard drive? The Ministry of Justice isn’t exactly sure. They know the details were lost by their completely incompetent contractors EDS. They also know that it happened in July of last year, though the Justice Secretary only found out after somebody told The News of the World. It’s pretty bad when the Government has to find out from a Sunday tabloid newspaper that it’s employees are at risk.

As usual, this is going to be an expensive blunder.

The Prison Officers’ Association said the loss, which it had not been informed about, could end up costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

National chairman Colin Moses said: “We are extremely concerned that not only has this data been lost, but that the Prison Service appear to have tried to conceal this serious breach in security.

“It is a breach that we believe could ultimately cost the taxpayer millions and millions of pounds, because, if the information lost is personal and sensitive, it may well mean staff having to move prisons, move homes and relocate their families.”

Losing Everything

I keep thinking that it is impossible for the British Government and it’s bureaucracy to screw things up worse than they already have. It’s the one thing about which I am always wrong. They just can’t stop losing things.

First, they lost the bank details of everyone receiving child benefit – that is, every family with children in the UK, including mine – 25 million in all. We got a nice impersonal apology letter for that one. Then they lost the details of three million learner drivers.

Then the Ministry of Defence lost a laptop with the details of 600,000  people who had expressed an interest in joining the armed forces. At least they know when and where they lost that one (it was left overnight in a car in Birmingham), even if they never got it back. At the time they didn’t even know they had lost hundreds of Ministry of Defense laptops and memory sticks with classified information on them and still don’t know where those are.

All the while they keep insisting that we hand over more and more data for them to keep on us.

Now the Home Office has lost all the data – including all the confidential information – on every prisoner in the UK. This is includes release dates and other information that could compromise their safety.  The Government is looking at millions and millions of pounds in compensation or in damages from the inevitable lawsuits.

I honestly don’t know what new higher levels of incompetence the Government will demonstrate before the next General Election. I don’t know how much of the country will be left for them to turn over to the Tories. The mind boggles.

Matters of National Insecurity

The Government is actively and admittedly planning the ultimate in surveillance on the British population. You could call it the Mother of all Big Brothers. Gordon Brown wants the Government to keep a database of every email, phone call and all time spent on the internet. After all, innocent people have nothing to hide. The Government just wants to be able to keep tabs on your innocence.

Sure it’s a lot of personal information, but if you can’t trust the Government, who can you trust? After all, the Government is only here to look after us and protect us. And where else could your information be more safe?

Take the Ministry of Defence, for example. They tell us it is just a fluke that 658 laptops were stolen between 2004 and 2007. That’s in addition to the 89 that have just been lost. But hey, they have recovered 32 of these. Up until a few weeks ago, the MoD only acknowledged that 347 laptops had been stolen. Seems there were “anomalies in the reporting process” that kept ministers from knowing that another 311 had been taken. A significant number of these laptops contained, as you might suspect, secret information vital to national security.

But the MoD doesn’t just keep information on the hard drives of its laptops. No, this the era of the USB memory stick. They have had 131 of these lost or stolen, but just like the laptops, they can’t even say when or where. They do know that some of the sticks also had classified information on them.

Yet in the midst of admitting all of this – and given that the British government never likes to admit anything, just think of what breaches of security and carelessness with data lie unknown that this point – they dismiss out of hand any attempt by opposition parties to hold them accountable and insist they must have more and more data about every single person.  It beggars belief.

There has never been a government in this country – at least in modern times – to have such complete disregard for the people they govern.