UK.gov shreds last ID scheme hard drives
Damien Green waves 'freedoms' flag
The government destroyed the final 500 hard drives that contained the national identity register today.
Immigration minister Damian Green turned up for the photo opportunity to demonstrate the government's commitment to trashing the unpopular ID card scheme.
He fed some of the drives into a huge crushing machine at RDC in Witham, Essex this afternoon.
In total about 500 hard drives and 100 back-up tapes that contained the details of around 15,000 holders of the ID cards were magnetically wiped and shredded.
The government said that it will chuck the trashed drives and back up tapes into an "environmentally friendly waste-for-energy" incinerator soon.
Late last month the ID card scheme hit the end of the line, when the government said the cards were no longer valid.
The taxpayer copped a £400,000 bill for contractors to delete the data collected during the scheme, which was brought in by the previous Labour government.
Part of the cost included the Identity and Passport Service writing to those few people with an ID card to tell them that it was no longer worth the plastic it was printed on.
"Laying ID cards to rest demonstrates the government’s commitment to scale back the power of the state and restore civil liberties," said Green.
"This is about people having trust in the government to know when it is necessary and appropriate for the state to hold and use personal data, and it is about the government placing their trust in the common sense and responsible attitude of people." ®
What a complete waste. No doubt these 500 drives were enterprise standard installed into a couple of medium-sized storage arrays and probably cost over half a million quid. Rather than chucking this lot away couldn't they just have performed a secure erase and used it for something else? Given that you could probably dump the entire details for 15,000 people into a large USB stick, then trashing these drives proves nothing very much at all.
This just looks like an expensive photo-opportunity for a grandstanding politician.
500 drives for 15,000 holders?
Exactly how much data did they store on each person?
A necessary step
Government knows it lost the trust of the general public on this one. Whilst it was the last administration that created this mess the current one knows it has to try and regain this trust. We all know that it is technically possible there's a backup or two "just in case", and we've no way of knowing if the disks and tapes shredded are the right ones, but if the disks stayed in use, consipiracy theorists would never stop going on (rightly or wrongly) about how HMG still had the data.
Yes, from a technical point of view it is a meaningless and possibly wasteful gesture, but what else could they really have done? Whilst I like government to be efficient and frugal, sometimes the odd bit of theatre is necessary.