ID cards and eBay and whiskers on kittens...

A few of your favourite things

Letters More on the tax office's computer error. This would be the unnoticed computer error which resulted in almost a million taxpayer records being deleted from Inland Revenue computer systems between 1997 and 2000. Yes, you read that right:

How convenient - this "computer error" (i.e. down to lack of testing) saves the Revenue £70m-odd.

Regards, Mike

" This resulted in some 364,000 people who cannot be identified being owed £82m, while another 22,000 did not pay tax due of around £6m. "

Ah. Now we know the _real_ reason why it went "undetected" for years. I may be a cynic but I think that if the figures had been the other way round it would have been fixed one hell of a lot more quickly.....

It's amazing how often these little "accidents" turn out to be massively financially beneficial to those to whom they have happened ....

cheers, DaveK

No surprise on the computer errors at the Inland Revenue. I once worked for them doing data entry. What amazes me is how they actually managed to keep any data at all under those circumstances.


Wait. is this the same government that wants to keep big databases of our very identity..? I can just see the letter now..:

"Dear ex-Person,

Due to an administrative error in our database centre; you now don't exist any more.



National identity register. Three words guaranteed to make the average Reg reader turn blue with anger and start frothing at the mouth. (We know 'cos we've done tests). So the government's plans to grade access (according to need, we hear) to same were never going to be popular:

This is typical of the softly-softly approach of the government.

First we are told that identity checks are required when (example from the article) renting a car. Then 6 months later it's that actually, when renting a car they will also check your medical history or DVLA declared ailments to make sure nothing there invalidates the rental company car insurance. Then a further 6 months on, they get to look at your criminal history to make sure there are no long forgotten (i.e. removed from your driving licence) traffic incidents they can charge you more for. It's then extended to credit history to ensure you're not going to default, and so on.

And that's just for renting a car. Consider what more invasive companies (life insurance providers for example) could attempt to justify in the name of being "core to evaluating applications".

Each of the above taken alone might not read like it is completely illogical (ok, far fetched possibly), but it is this one-item-at-a-time philosophy that will ensure the complete removal of our remaining freedoms.


Apart from the myriad of problems any sensible person has with private business using data collected by government, this is yet another big piece of corporate welfare where the taxpayer pays for the system and private companies get all the benefits. Presentation of your ID card should be enough, allowing companies access to the back-end data scares the hell out of me.


And the ID card charm offensive was probably not going to win them points either:

"It may sound like a bold claim but our ID card system will protect personal data and privacy."

No, not really. It sounds like a lie.

Why does the government have to charm us? They are particularly ill-equipped for charm being both ugly and slimy. I'm as likely to shake their hand as I am to buy second-hand sex toys.

If they are convinced of the value of ID cards, then go ahead and implement the damn things. They don't need my permission and I don't need to like what they do. I can always remember to never ever ever vote for such a lame bunch of tosspots.


So, Yahoo is accused of assisting the Chinese authorities track down and arrest a cyber dissident but what really bugs you about the story is...

"How far will [Yahoo] go to please Beijing?" I'm curious about how far Reporters Without Borders will go to please Peking?

"Beijing" was forced upon English-speaking journalists a couple of decades ago by a Ministry of Culture which repeatedly complained about foreign interference with the Chinese language (among many other things).

I'm waiting for English-speakers to start trying to pronounce the capitals of Italy and France the way they do in Italian and French.


Er, OK.

More of the bizarre regarding a Microsoft patch update:

you subheadline is 'whatever'?!?! When ms releases 20 patches at once, you yell your asses off ridiculing how insecure all its software is and how they can't stop fixing the bugs. How about some sort of acknowledgement that things have been getting better lately? Or was swallowing your pride to report the bare news enough of an acomplishment for today?


Again, we say, er...OK.

We also received a suggestion that some of those smut-filled hard drives for sale on eBay might have got there via falling off the back of a lorry. Hem hem:

Some of us don't get a chance to delete the personal data off our hard disks... I had my PC nicked last month, and I'm not so upset about losing the hardware (it was old and tired, like me), it was all the spreadsheets, family photos and autocomplete passwords that somebody else now has that worried me.

Instead of disk "cleaning" software, the real solution I need is a decent encrypted file system, even for temporary files...

And maybe in future DiskLabs would like to contact the original owners instead of the "traders" (fences?) to see if they are interested about their data still being on the machines?

Thanks, Mike

PS If I say "THAT ALL BUGRLARS ARE BASTRDS YOU CHEZY GREYT FOOLS!!!!!/1?!111!", can I have Flame of the Week?

No. Sorry.

Probably our favourite letter this month arrived in response to eBay's acquisition of Skype

No doubt the bidding for Skype started at $1 a week ago, stood at around $4.50 until 1 minute before the auction closed, and then shot up to $2.6 billion in the last few seconds.


Finally, a complaint. Not even close to fiery enough to be a flame, but amusing enough that we wanted to share it with you all. As you can imagine, we are literally quaking in our boots now that we understand the full implications of poking fun at world leaders:

Nice choice to run the "George Bush - Searching for Failure" piece as top billing on your website.

No doubt that President Bush has his detractors here and abroad, but to marginalize the majority of the electorate (and therefore, a decent percentage of your readers) who voted Mr. Bush into a second term is mind-numbingly dumb.

In America, this type of stupidity has befallen musical groups like the Dixie Chicks and media outlets like the Los Angeles Times with dire results. If you take this risk then you must be prepared to deal with the subsequent consequences of reduced website traffic and the advertisers who link to it.

This will be the last time for a long time that I navigate to "The Register." In the mean time, you may want to consider changing the color of your borders from red to blue to align your beliefs with the appropriate political party.


Hunter Lynne Los Angeles, CA United States of America

PS - Hear that sound? It's me removing your website from my Favorites and Bookmark folders.

Which seems like enough silliness for one day. More of the same on Friday. ®

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