Wednesday, 21 November 2007

No 2 ID (Again)

No doubt Mrs S’s details and mine are on the now notorious two missing CD’s courtesy of HMRC. Both our UK bank details are at risk of being public domain and this will lead to our main UK bank accounts being frozen should our details find their way into the wrong hands. If they haven't got stuck down the back of someone's photocopier or at the bottom of an overloaded HMRC clerks out tray or the National Audit Offices in tray, perhaps even sent to the DVLC by mistake. The latter three choices are higher probabilities in my book.

Perhaps, and let’s assume that any of the putative data thieves have a modicum of intelligence and cunning, they will simply create a £25 a month direct debit on, let’s say every account holder with an income over £14,000 a year. That should account for most people in the tax paying system. Multiply that by a potential 7 million bank accounts at risk. One hundred and seventy five million a month, tax free. If the amounts are small and go unnoticed for a while it might take a year for the full scope to become apparent, (£2.1 Billion) and by that time, the thieves will have melted into data obscurity. If they are based in another non-EU country, they will never be caught, nor the money retrieved. Of course if said data thieves have no restraint, whole towns and cities will go down the financial plug’ole. Including jolly old Londinium.

The blogosphere has been alive with comments about how the loss of this data will finally kill the wasteful and bloated UK ID cards IT project. Having watched the current UK Governments attitude to outraged public comment with increasing world weariness; I cite the ignoring of the Iraq war protests, Countryside Alliance marches, Fuel tax protests and so on. I am forced to the following conclusion; ID cards will happen whether we like it or not. HM Government don’t give a monkeys about what we think. They won’t even listen to IT professionals who have raised perfectly reasonable concerns about the projects size and its potential security issues. Hopefully Mrs S and I will have citizenship of Canada before that comes to pass.

No other country has successfully put all their ID eggs in one basket before (Bank details, Medical records, National Insurance & Tax details, the lot), and no one else but the UK (To my knowledge) has tried to do so in such a manner. To me, that’s rather like having what remains of the UK’s gold reserves being put on display in the foyer of your local town hall. It’s an incredibly tempting target for the ID thieves, who can then empty bank accounts, turn ordinary people (Me and you) into unpersons, give you a criminal record (Once your personal details are obtained) instantly. The High street banks won’t be able to sustain the losses, and when they go down, the whole country will financially go with them. Could the UK survive a banking collapse that would eclipse the current Northern Rock crisis? The sub prime market problems will be a mere storm in a teacup by comparison. The terrorists won’t need bombs.

As for the scandal of the lost data spelling the end of ID cards. Sorry but I’m on the side of the sceptics on this one. The UK government won’t cancel the ID card bill. On the one hand they don’t want to lose public face on the issue, and on the other, who cares? After all, it’s not really their money they are chucking down the tubes is it? It’s ours. Joe taxpayer.

Perhaps we ought to ditch the whole biometric ID idea and try a more Canadian approach.

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