UK security breach shows why data retention must be stopped

From the Irish Times:

Britain’s prime minister Gordon Brown and chancellor Alistair Darling were left reeling last night after the astonishing disclosure that the personal data of 25 million people and 7.25 million families across the UK has been lost.

The Metropolitan Police are now leading the search for two disks containing details of the UK’s entire child benefits database. The data was downloaded in breach of all standing procedures by junior officials at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and then sent to the National Audit Office via an internal postal system that was not recorded or registered….

The data contains names and addresses of parents and children, national insurance and child benefit numbers and, in some cases, bank or building society details.

How long will it be before the giant databases created by data retention laws are compromised? Governments worldwide, and the Irish Government in particular, have shown that they cannot be trusted with the information they already have. Now is not the time to create even more databases.

This case also highlights the importance of our call for a right to be warned when your personal data is exposed. Under Irish law as it stands there is no obligation on the State – or anybody else – to warn you when they have allowed your personal information to be compromised. The first you may know about it is when you feel the effects of identity theft. But by then it will be too late.