What a bunch of discs

When the Guardian urged the government to “free our data”, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean that the government should compromise the personal data of half the population. The “discgate” (gah, why does everything need to be called “-gate”?) scandal is all the more horrifying because of the sheer stupidity involved: it seems that 25 million people’s data was entrusted to a junior clerk and stored without encryption before burnt to CD and lost in the post. [The data was encrypted after all. Thanks Charles.]

It’s a spectacular display of utter incompetence, but of course there’s a bigger point here. There are all kinds of rules, procedures and laws to prevent such stupidity from happening, and none of them made any difference.

These are the people who will protect us from ID thieves? Jesus wept.

And that’s why the ID card scheme gives sensible people the heebie-jeebies. It’s not fear of Big Brother watching us; it’s the perfectly reasonable fear that Big Brother is D-U-M dumb. What’s the point of biometric scanning and other high-tech protection if the entire system can be compromised by a clerk with a CD burner?

As this sorry saga proves, relying on the government to safeguard our personal data is like asking Fred West to babysit.