10 ways the government has lost your private data

If you want to keep your personal data safe, then you need to be either a) dead (beyond caring), b) not born (have no personal data to concern yourself with) or c) Stig of the Dump. Otherwise, you're fair game.

In the last 12 months, nearly 31 million people - barring duplication, that'd be over one in two of us, folks - have had personal data lost by the kack-handed government officials and contractors who shuttle our digital lives around on laptops and CDs, oblivious to the fact that leaving them on trains and selling them on auction sites might be generally considered a bad move.

Couldn't give a toss? Wait until you read about the bozos who've been trusted with your data and what they've done with it.

October 2008 - Ministry of Defence contractors EDS lose details of 1.7 million people who had enquired about joining the armed forces. "We looked down the back of the sofa and everything," exclaims a spokesperson.

September 2008 - Whittington Hospital NHS Trust loses records of nearly 18,000 staff due to butter fingers. They're later found, so that's alright. Meanwhile, 50,000 staff are put at risk after a hard driver was stolen from RAF Innsworth.

August 2008 - PA Consulting lose their contract with the Home Office after losing a data stick holding records on 84,000 prisoners, plus the names, addresses and personal details of another 40,000 past offenders. Whoops.

July 2008 - The Ministry of Justice fesses up to losing personal data on 45,000 people, as well as nearly 660 laptops lost by staff over the past four years. How do you lose 660 laptops? That's just careless.

June 2008 - A forgetful manager at a local NHS Trust is sacked after leaving a laptop in his car. Said laptop contains full details on over 20,000 patients. Laptop stolen from previously mentioned car.

March 2008 - The MoD puts its hands up and admits 11,000 military ID cards have been lost or stolen since 2006.

February 2008 - Somebody, somehow, manages to list a Home Office laptop on eBay, and sell it to a Mister Lee Beven in Manchester. Beven gets twitchy when he finds a data disk "with the words Home Office and Confidential written all over it" inside.

January 2008 - The laptop of a navy officer is stolen in Birmingham. Ah yes, Birmingham, that well known naval port with his long-standing nautical heritage. The laptop contains details of 600,000 recruits to the armed forces. Nothing important - only passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers’ licence details, family details, doctors’ addresses and NHS numbers. And in the case of 3,500 people, bank details too.

The City and Hackney trust loses a CD containing the names and addresses of 160,000 children, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Health Trust in Kent loses the records of 244 cancer patients. Nice.

December 2007 - Between a courier, a missing data cartridge, the Driving Standards Agency and Kirklees council, December has a bumper month with over 3 million records disappearing into the ether.

November 2007 - HM Revenue and Customs admits 25 million records containing the full details of the entire child benefit database have disappeared after somebody sends the entire MRC database unrecorded and unregistered through by courier. That's no moon, that's a space station.

What do you think?

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