Civil service apologises for HMRC data loss
Very civil of them
UK Identity Crisis Everyone whose information was included on the two CDs of child benefit recipients which the government lost should have received a written apology this morning.
The letter - from Dave Hartnett, acting chairman of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - apologises for the loss and claims: "The copy of the data is still likely to be on Government property. The police are now conducting a search, there is no evidence that it is in the possession of anyone else."
The loss of two CDs containing 25m records including names, addresses and bank details is the UK's, and probably the world's, largest ever data loss.
The letter warns people to contact their bank if they receive unexpected bills, invoices or receipts.
People who use their child's name or data of birth for a password are advised to change it. Otherwise, the letter says, there is no need for people to contact their bank or building society.
The letter ends: "I would like to offer my personal apologies for any worry or concern this data loss may cause you. And I can assure you that all efforts are being made to ensure that such a loss can never happen again."
Today also saw the release of the terms of reference of Kieran Poynter's investigation into the data disaster.
Poynter will investigate:
"HMRC practices and procedures in the handling and transfer of confidential data on taxpayers and benefit/credit recipients; the processes for ensuring that these procedures are communicated to staff and the safeguards in place to ensure they are adhered to; the reasons why these failed to prevent the loss of confidential data; whether these procedures and processes are sufficient to ensure the confidentiality of personal data."
The initial report will be handed in 14 December with the final report looking at wider implications being ready by Spring.
More from HMRC here.
A spokesman for HMRC told us this morning that police searches for the missing discs were continuing. ®
With apologies to Billy Connolly
By the way, big man, whit is a database onyway?
Och Alisdair, ahve telt ye before, its just like a big family tree.
An is that how they call it a relational database, Gordo?
Aye, thats the gemme Al, yer begining tae get the idea noo.
Jings, Gordo, ahm really sorry aboot they 25 million records ah lost.
Dinna you bother yer heid aboot that, Al, jist you leave it tae me.
Ur ye gonny fix it wi wan o yer magic biometric thingummys?
Stand on me, kiddo, biometric ID cards will solve all oor problems.
Does that mean aw they corporate partners o oors will make loads of dosh?
Aye, but remember Al, in a free-market economy everyone benefits through the trickle-down effect.
And does that mean everybody will be pishin themselves, big man?
Aye, but we can fix that wi a bit o light-touch regulation.
See you, Gordo, you're terrific, so ye are.
Ah know Al, ah know.
Doesn't add up
I'm sure this has been aired here before but I just don't understand this. The lost disks are always described as "2 CDs". To me that means about 1.5 Gig of space. They contain details of 25 million citizens. That means 60 bytes per citizen. Given that the data is likely to be in some hideous Microsoft format that needs at least 10 bytes of garbage for every byte of data I just don't see how 2 CDs could contain enough data for anyone to worry about - even with compression. What am I missing?
They sent it second class so thats 10p saved per envelope.
Mind you my wife's letter came but not my own. I hope it hasn't gone missing in the post!