UK's Privacy Chernobyl
I didn’t write about this story at first because we’ve seen it so many times before: a disk with lots of personal information is lost. Encryption is the simple and obvious solution, and that’s the end of it.
But the UK’s loss of 25 million child benefit records — including dates of birth, addresses, bank account information, and national insurance numbers — is turning into a privacy disaster, threatening to derail plans for a national ID card.
Why is it such a big deal? Certainly the scope: 40% of the British population. Also the data: bank account details; plus information about children. There’s already a larger debate on the issue of a database on kids that this feeds into. And it’s a demonstration of government incompetence (think Hurricane Katrina).
In any case, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologized. The head of the Revenue and Customs office has resigned. More is certainly coming.
And this is an easy security problem to solve! Disk and file encryption software is cheap, easy to use, and effective.