Transcript disappears minister's 'hack-proof' ID register claim
So who hacked Hansard?
At the end of February Home Office minister Meg Hillier explained the UK ID scheme security system to the Home Affairs Committee. "The National Identity Register, essentially," she said, "will be a secure database; ...hack-proof, not connected to the Internet... not be accessible online; any links with any other agency will be down encrypted links."
Except she didn't, apparently, because by the time the Committee session transcript was published, here, Hillier words had become: "The National Identity Register, essentially, will be a secure database; it will not be accessible online; any links with any other agency will
be down encrypted links."
Spooky? We are indebted to William Heath's Ideal Government blog for spotting the difference between what was actually said (noted at the time by an eyewitness) and what appeared in the official record. We should also explain at this point that Hansard, the UK parliamentary record system, is not intended to function as an entirely verbatim transcript of proceedings. It is largely verbatim, but includes some facility for publishing what the speaker meant to say, or perhaps even what they ought to have said.
Ordinarily, however, changes amount to little more than polishing and seldom materially affect the meaning. Ordinarily...
In this case, the removal of "hack-proof, not connected to the Internet" goes some way beyond minor polishing. Do we understand from this that Hillier's officials think it unwise (which, of course, it is) to claim that the NIR is hack-proof? And are they keen to leave wiggle-room on Internet connectivity? A database that is "not accessible online" is not necessarily the same thing as a database that is not connected to the Internet, depending on what you might mean by "not accessible".
Hillier is relatively new to the ID card brief at the Home Office, and has come up with several improbable and/or unfortunate claims in recent months (e.g., "we should see an identity card, like a passport, in country"). At the Committee session, Ideal Government reports that "the officials present were passing notes to try to get her back on message", which we would guess is just the sort of thing that's likely to prompt the acute observer to take especially careful notes. It's a tough job minding some people. ®
First we have revisionist historians rewriting and airbrushing the documented facts about Hitler's Holocaust. Now we have policy-wonks (sorry, that should be 'special advisers') editing the parliamentary record of debates in the House. Does this fall under the writ of the Minister for Transformational Government, Tom Watson MP, and if so could he be persuaded to remind his proteges that they are not editing entries on Wikipedia.
Back to the Wendy House for the hapless, clueless Ms Hillier.
I'm seriously beginning to wonder if there's any point in democracy in this country anymore. Why vote when all we get are more mindless partyline toeing drones?! Perhaps what we need is for any minister to actually have relevant and extensive experience in the field that is governed by their department.
Can we not have judges overseeing legal proposals by govt? Doctors running the NHS, teachers running education and perhaps, just maybe, JUST MAYBE.. geeks running IT policy?
But clearly this is all wishful thinking, Zanu Labour PF are so obviously utterly incompetent that all we'll get out of them is more tabloid pandering bollocks.
Mine's the one with a one-way ticket to New Zealand in the top pocket.
No conspiracy here - move along now...
There's no story here. Hansard has never been a verbatim transcript of what is said in Parliament. It often has to tidy up the messy grammar and incoherent ramblings that come out of the mouths of the Dear Leaders and their lackeys. So the intent of what was said gets recorded by Hansard rather than the actual words. Sometimes this is a near-impossible but essential public service: for instance translating fluent Prescott into English.
Hansard's tried to do Ms. Hillier a favour by deleting "hack-proof" from the record because this is clearly a ridiculous and impossible assertion.