Feeds

Info chief renews call for data breach crime penalties

Brown lets him carry out spot checks

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

UK Identity Crisis The Prime Minister pledged today to give the Information Commissioner the right to perform spot checks on government departments in the wake of the HMRC ID debacle.

However, Gordon Brown’s statement will do little to placate the ICO, which has demanded it be allowed to launch criminal prosecutions against organisations that play fast and loose with confidential data.

Brown told the Commons today: "I profoundly regret and apologise for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families that receive child benefits."

"We have a duty to do everything that we can to protect the public," he added.

Brown defended Whitehall’s record on data protection and its rules, saying the HMRC breach was down to an individual circumventing the regulations. But he conceded that the ICO should be able to carry out spot checks on government departments to audit their data protection procedures. He also said the Cabinet Office would review government procedures. Presumably before the ICO is actually allowed to march into Whitehall departments unannounced.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, said “I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that my staff will be able to spot check government departments. We will work with the Ministry of Justice to confirm the detail of this announcement.”

But Thomas demanded the government go further, saying “It is also important that the law is changed to make security breaches of this magnitude a criminal offence... making this a criminal offence would serve as a strong deterrent and would send a very strong signal that it is completely unacceptable to be cavalier with people’s personal information.”

Thomas said that according to recent ICO research "people also rank protecting personal information as the second most important social issue – ahead of the environment and the NHS."

That may be a surprise to some. But if it wasn’t true before this week, it could well be true this week.

Public concern will embolden the Conservatives, and other opposition parties, to garner more public support in their efforts to discredit the Labour government’s plan to introduce ID cards.

Tory leader David Cameron described as “weird” and “bizarre” Brown’s contention that the government’s inability to keep the details of almost half the population safe had no bearing on whether it could keep the details of all the population safe.

Cameron even brought a little system analysis to bear, saying the fact a junior employee could access the entire database multiple times was evidence of “systemic failure”.

Certainly systems have been in turmoil at the HMRC – which is just a few years old. The merger of the two predecessor departments – Inland Revenue and Customs – has been followed by wide-ranging job cuts, as civil service unions have been quick to point out.

Perhaps this week’s outcry over the breach will lead to an overhaul of government procedures on handling citizen data. Then, all we’ll have to worry about is whether or not civil servants and politicos, especially those intent on "joined-up government", actually pay any attention next time. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.