Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 21 November 2007

This blog is hereby 'resurrected' ...

Well, you may be thinking, it didin't take him (i.e. me) long to renege on his merciful promise to save us all from further dreary comment! My last post here, theoretically 'signing off' for good, was on 30th September last, but as a Prime Minister (MacMillan) once said - "Events, dear boy, events." Hmmm ...

Maybe I'm just an irredeemable internet junkie who can't keep away from a regular 'fix' of pontification. The spur for this change of heart has been developing over the past few weeks firstly with the unfolding fiasco of the Northern Rock and its need to get outside help as quickly as possible to stop it going belly-up (and thereby jeopardising a fair few jobs in the north-east of England, a Labour stronghold). Naturally, billions of our tax pounds have to go to such a worthy cause as trying to save the Labour Party from electoral oblivion. And who am I to object to this use of public funds? It is obvious to all that we have, these past ten years, been living in the best-managed major country in the world (according to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that is).

Now we come to the latest example of the incomptence of those who govern us! The personal details of almost HALF THE POPULATION OF THE UK (roughly twenty-five million people) have been cavalierly treated by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, until earlier this year presided over, for these past wonderful ten years, by 'Big Brother' Gordon Brown. Half the population is now at risk from identity theft and fraud as a direct result of policies put in place by Gordon Brown. The head of HMRC has resigned yesterday, but is this really enough? The Prime Minister apologised today for this debacle, as well he might, but it is simply no good to conduct yet another 'review'; the last time thousands of records were mishandled by the same department, just a few months ago, we were told steps would be taken to ensure that such things couldn't happen again. Whatever measures were taken have, to put it mildly, been completely ineffective!

How was it possible for a 'junior' employee at HMRC to circumvent the rules Gordon Brown read out at PMQs? Having worked in a bank, and at one time been responsible for the data security of our operations in the country where I worked at the time, it would have been completely impossible for a 'junior' employee to duplicate records onto recordable media without me knowing about it. A security system worth the name does not just rely on a rule book, but has a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one employee can circumvent whatever rules are laid down.

On the radio this morning and later in the day (so far) three things have struck me particularly:
- the guy in charge of the Data Protection Office (on the 'Today' programme) made the uncontroversial comment that security must not just be aimed at preventing criminal acts, but must be idiot-proof, too;
- this same gentleman agreed with the 'Today' presenter that the government may have contravened the Data Protection Act. Quite extraordinary!
- a Lord Errol (?sp), described as a Cross-bencher, speaking on 'The World at One', queried why the National Audit Office had the right to seek information from the HMRC on the tax details of citizens? Perhaps its request was orthodox, but I think this line of inquiry is worth pursuing.

There's a very great deal more that needs to be said about this shambles of a government, but I must go out now to visit the hospital where my mother has been for the past week or so.

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