But it is clear that no one in or out of government knows what the word ‘encryption’ means:
Child database plan under attack following missing discs debacle By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor Independent Published: 26 November 2007
A review of security has been ordered over Government plans to put the personal details of 11 million schoolchildren on to a database. The move comes in the wake of the HM Revenue and Customs missing discs debacle.
Information about every child’s name, address, their parents or guardians as well as contact details for each government service they use, including which GP they go to, are to be held on a £224m database called ContactPoint planned for the new year. The information is to be made available to 330,000 government workers on the internet and only a two-part security authentication will be needed to access the data.
Parents’ groups have protested against putting their children on the database, fearing it could be dangerous. But the loss of the personal details of 25 million people receiving child benefit prompted fresh demands from parents for a rethink of the entire scheme..
Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, has ordered an urgent independent review of security surrounding the planned database but he is under pressure to order that it should be entirely encrypted if it goes ahead
The Liberal Democrat spokesman for children, Annette Brooke, said all children’s data should be encrypted. She said ContactPoint information “could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands”.
But the Tories are calling for the scheme to be ditched. Tim Loughton, the Conservative spokesman for children, said it should be replaced by a smaller, more tightly controlled database. A spokesman for Mr Balls said he had asked David Bell, the permanent secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to carry out the review of his department’s data security. He reported back last Friday that it was “very robust”.
Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, is facing calls for a fresh Commons statement today on the “data disaster” after the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, claimed he has “not told the whole truth” to Parliament. It emerged over the weekend that six more discs had gone missing from the HMRC. They were sent by post on 10 October from a Preston tax credit office to Whitehall.
The Government will review too whether NHS patient information should be sent abroad for processing.
Encryption is not a magic fairy dust that stops data from being escapable, in the same way that you cannot make liquid water not wet.
Annette Brooke obviously hasn’t got a clue about data and its nature. There is nothing wrong with that; what is wrong, is that she is throwing around words without knowing what they really man, in an attempt to look like she knows what she is doing. Clueless people then rely on her poor understanding and use it as re-assurance that nothing can go wrong when the exact opposite is true.
As for data being ‘sent abroad’ for processing, this is, once again, complete insanity. We now know that when they say ‘sent abroad’ they LITERALLY and incomprehensibly mean physically sent abroad on discs!
Clearly this is insane, and for the thousandth time, once a disaster happens, the data cannot be returned, its over, period, done.