Is waning interest in HMRC's missing CDs letting government off the hook?

A reader Neil McIntosh makes the worthwhile point that media interest over HMRC’s two missing CDs, which contain child benefit data, is waning – which is inevitable – but does this let the government off the hook?

He writes:

“This is nothing less than a national disaster … yet media coverage has disappeared. Is it government media control, or just plain [lack of] interest?

“Either way we are allowing the Government to move on without redress, and without being held responsible for recovering the CD’s.

“And lastly, without being held accountable we can look forward to more of these disasters as increasingly more personal data is centralised by governments with poor or no security measures in place.”

Comment:

The media is not government controlled. However the government can push stories off the news agenda by making announcements which media organisations cover in part because they seem important and also because they’re easy to report – they usually need only a reaction, and not much fact-checking. One BBC journalist had the view that the HMRC story on the missing discs was pushed down the news agenda by government announcements but there’s no evidence of this.

The more serious point is that, without media coverage, there may be no lasting change in government to a culture in some areas of lax IT-related security.

Links:

Extreme reaction by HM Revenue and Customs to the CDs that went missing,

Missing child benefit CDs – what went wrong and why it would have carried on regardless

Ian Brown: Biometrics are not a panacea for data loss

Labour blames the servants again

Don’t worry – every detail of your life will be safe with us

Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate missing HMRC data discs

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HMRC could have easily avoided this blunder by using the host of FREE encryption tools out there. I encrypt all my data before sending with Crypturn which can be downloaded from http://www.siturn.com/downloads%5Ccrypturn.exe.

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