Thursday, 29 October 2009

Harman refuses debate on data security

Pressed by both David Heath for the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives' Sir George Young and even one of her own back-benchers, Andrew Miller, the Leader of the House today brushed off requests for a debate on data assurance. She refused to see a connection between the collection of vast amounts of personal data by the Home Office and yet another failure of security of government-collected data, reported this morning. She implied that the probability of increased numbers of convictions for rape and murder outweighed any dangers of people's DNA data getting into the wrong hands.

The latest scandal concerns the Rural Payments Agency. The RPA lost confidential data belonging to anyone who has ever claimed a single farm payment in England. According to Caroline Stocks of the Farmers Weekly, computer tapes containing the bank details, addresses, passwords and security questions of more than 100,000 farmers were discovered missing in May after they were transferred from RPA offices in Reading to Newcastle. Although DEFRA was alerted straight away - " it is Farmers Weekly's understanding that" DEFRA made no attempt to inform anyone. There is more here.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

These failures have implications for Wales. Although the RPA itself affects only England (the Welsh Assembly Government having opted for a simpler, cheaper and more effective system of farm payments), it is financed by DEFRA. Any overspend drains the DEFRA budget, which has to pay for environmental activities in both England and Wales.