Here you have it, although countless people have stated the situation in regards to government and personal data insecurity, it would take an disaster like this to wake people up.
Two computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.
The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25m people.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said there was no evidence the data had gone to criminals – but urged people to monitor bank accounts “for unusual activity”.
In an emergency statement to MPs, Mr Darling apologised for what he described as an “extremely serious failure on the part of HMRC to protect sensitive personal data entrusted to it in breach of its own guidelines”.
MPs gasped as Mr Darling told them: “The missing information contains details of all Child Benefit recipients: records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families.”
The chancellor blamed mistakes by junior officials at HMRC’s offices in Washington, Tyne and Wear, who he said had ignored security procedures when they sent information to the National Audit Office (NAO) for auditing.
Mr Darling told MPs: “Two password protected discs containing a full copy of HMRC’s entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit was sent to the NAO, by HMRC’s internal post system operated by the courier TNT.
The package was not recorded or registered. It appears the data has failed to reach the addressee in the NAO.”
He added: “The police tell me that they have no reason to believe that this data has found its way into the wrong hands.
“The police are not aware of any evidence that it has been used for fraudulent purposes or criminal activity.”
He said police were investigating the disappearance of the two discs. He also announced that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which monitors HMRC, was likely to investigate the incident.
It is the latest and by far the most serious of a string of missing data incidents at HM Revenue and Customs.
HMRC chairman Paul Gray resigned earlier after the latest incident came to light.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: “Let us be clear about the scale of this catastrophic mistake – the names, the addresses and the dates of birth of every child in the country are sitting on two computer discs that are apparently lost in the post, and the bank account details and National Insurance numbers of 10 million parents, guardians and carers have gone missing.
“Half the country will be very anxious about the safety of their family and the security and the whole country will be wondering how on earth the government allowed this to happen.”
Indeed. Remember this monumental cock-up when the fascists in Whitehall try and force you to get the all-encompassing, highly insecure, data mining-heaven, hack-from-a-distance ID card. It is the very essence of a police state. Tell the government to stick the card up its arse.
I for one, will be doing that just, and unless you like the idea of being a government slave under constant surveillance, I suggest you do the same.