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UK Government Staff Caught Snooping On Citizen Data

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the lets-have-a-look dept.

Government 120

An anonymous reader writes "More than 1,000 UK government staff have been caught snooping on citizen data — including criminal records, social security, and medical records. From the article: 'The U.K. government is haemorrhaging data — private and confidential citizen data — from medical records to social security details, and even criminal records, according to figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Just shy of 1,000 civil servants working at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), were disciplined for accessing personal social security records. The Department for Health (DoH), which operates the U.K.’s National Health Service and more importantly all U.K. medical records, saw more than 150 breaches occur over a 13-month period.'"

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Mrs May you're useless! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038495)

Teh UK Gov they want CCDP to go in where by they gather all the source and destinations of SMS, emails and browsers over the entire UK?! The UK Gov can't even look after stuff they've been in charge of for years, let alone this new stuff!

Mrs May, you and your departments can piss off if you think you getting any more my info!

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#40038679)

Mrs May, you and your departments can piss off if you think you getting any more my info!

How are you going to stop them?

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (4, Informative)

coastwalker (307620) | about 2 years ago | (#40039001)

I have come to the conclusion that it isn't the politicians that are the problem. Its the Civil Service. Governments are just a passing inconvenience to them, all the policies floated by the last government that were called out as being hated by the people are steadily being re-introduced by the current government. It seems that the reforming Tories in power actually have no power at all. So there is no point ranting at an individual politician because they may as well not be there for all the good it will do.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039351)

I have come to the conclusion that it isn't the politicians that are the problem. Its the Civil Service. Governments are just a passing inconvenience to them, all the policies floated by the last government that were called out as being hated by the people are steadily being re-introduced by the current government. It seems that the reforming Tories in power actually have no power at all. So there is no point ranting at an individual politician because they may as well not be there for all the good it will do.

Of course, Yes Minister!; and Yes, Prime Minister! showed us this in satire 30 years ago.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#40040873)

Has it been that long....

Trident submarines and everything?

Bernard Woolley: What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
Bernard Woolley: What's that?
Sir Richard Wharton: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we *can* do.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (3, Insightful)

tomtomtom (580791) | about 2 years ago | (#40039485)

One might posit that weak politicians (of all parties) who are unable to stand up to civil servants are a bigger part of the problem. Somehow the skills that seem to be required to get elected (and, as importantly, selected by a party to stand for a seat) just don't seem to include this skill set.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (2)

reboot246 (623534) | about 2 years ago | (#40039567)

It's that way in the U. S., too, and worse. And a lot of our public sector workers are unionized which means they're nearly impossible to fire. They demand more money and benefits from the politicians who are more than happy to oblige them in exchange for union campaign donations. Most work for 25 years and then retire with big pensions and cushy benefits.

Until we get a handle on that we're screwed.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040243)

The UK's civil service would be the equivalent of the US's federal and state employees. There's absolutely no connection, comparison or relevance to unions - which are securing those pensions and benefits from businesses.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#40041891)

AC, I don't think you read the GP fully. It says that public (state) workers are increasingly becoming unionized in the US. In that vein, they're not rallying against "the 1%" to demand better wages and pensions, they're rallying against the 99.99%: the rest of society.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040613)

While the unions do not always have the businesses best interests at heart nether do the management, the unions pursue the best interests of the workers and the managers of themselves within the limits of their job. It is a natural tendency to want to score well, and to feel powerful, and abusing or underpaying workers often acts to improve scores of efficiency, but these things drive off good workers and so in the long run are bad.

When they are in a healthy balance workers and managers *both* end up better off, but miss-balances cause problems and you need strong management to keep unions healthy. Unions who do genuinely hold the workers best interests in heart want to allow the firing of abusers as they spoil the workplace for all, but demand a fair hearing.

Government managers are often weekend in authority for political reasons and this allows the unions to become corrupted and bloated. Unions like managers when unchecked can often follow their prejudices rather than acting in the best interests of their workers or the company and so the government unions often will protect the bad apples. This is not a problem that can be solved by attacking the unions though, since week management AND week unions is by no means a solution, but by empowering the managers to have a greater authority to overrule them. This should in time clean up the workforce and the unions (as to do one is to do the other in the long run).

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40041115)

So in short, the revolution will only come when the managers realize that they can in fact fire everyone and replace them with non-union employees.

Re:Mrs May you're useless! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#40041265)

Same exact thing in Ireland too, word for bloody word. What do you call it when the regulators are the ones doing the regulatory capture?

The arrival of Big Brother, finally ? (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#40039029)

Many decades ago I read that book "1984", I have to admit that I were scared shitless at the thought of the all-knowing big brothers controlling every single bit of my life.

But at that time, - decades ago, - even the worst government (East Germany, North Korea, China, Russia, to name just a few) just couldn't have the mean to know everything about every single citizen under their control

Oh yes, those bastard governments employed a lot of spooks and collected volumes of data, but determined citizens always found ways to defeat even the most draconian measure

No more

With the advent of computers and high speed network, not only they (the governments) get to collect all types of data, they can data-mine the data so much so that they can get to understand us more than we understand ourselves

We might not know where we might go, or what we might do, tomorrow, for example - by simply referencing our daily/weekly/monthly routines, our health data, our financial data, the people that we are in contact with, etc, - the government might be able to predict, with a certain degree of accuracy, what we might do, where we might go, a few days from now

This is scary !!

Way more scary than the scenario outlined in "1984"

Re:The arrival of Big Brother, finally ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039071)

Hey Chicken Little, you want to be really scared? Read up on the Stasi, the Gestapo, and the KGB. What's going on now is chump change compared to those overwhelming and ruthless organizations. Insinuating that the UK is on a par with China and North Korea is just more of the idiotic hyperbole that this site is famous for.

Re:The arrival of Big Brother, finally ? (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40039123)

The Stasi, like the Gestapo, relied on informers. They both worked in a situation where everyone was doing something illegal and an accusation was about all the evidence that was required. If they wanted to intimidate or eliminate someone, they just needed to pressure a neighbour or acquaintance into informing on them. This meant that they were intrinsically limited. Both were relatively small organisations and it would take several weeks of several agents' time to get one person. Their power came from the fear that they generated: everyone knew someone who knew someone who had been arrested on trumped-up charges and never seen again. It was unlikely to happen to you, but it could.

The problem with this kind of database and monitoring is that it means that any Stasi-like organisation can be run efficiently. Want to eliminate everyone in a certain category of political undesirables? There's an app for that...

Re:The arrival of Big Brother, finally ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039417)

The Stasi, like the Gestapo, relied on informers.

Ah, you mean like all the British government funded initiatives to get you to 'inform' on your neighbours if you suspect them of being up to no good/cheating the system, the use of paid 'agents provocateurs' to infiltrate various 'subversive' organisations (and getting them to orchestrate 'actionable' merry japes ), paid 'Police informants' etc. etc. etc.

If you're bored, look up 'The Economic League' (allegedly now defunct), 'Caprim' (its most visible successor) or the history (and methodologies) of any of the 'blacklisting' companies which operated/operate in Britain. They weren't/aren't even state run, relied heavily on informants, but the state made/makes use of the information they gather. (I'd love to see both the Economic League and MI5/GCHQ dossiers on my late father side by side, I'd bet good money that a lot of material in both would be identical (at the 'word by word' level)).

Not that any of this sort of stuff is new, a lot of this sort of thing went on in Britain pre the writing of 1984, and, as an ex-policeman (albeit in another country), Orwell knew the score.

The problem with this kind of database and monitoring is that it means that any Stasi-like organisation can be run efficiently.

On that point, Google Britain's wonderful track record on Government IT projects, one can only hope that they do switch from paper to databases, they have a penchant for truly (and royally) fucking them up.

Efficiency and UK Government IT: the best definition of an an oxymoron I know of.

ugh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038499)

freaking OBAMA

how's that HOPE and CHANGE workin out HUH?

Re:ugh (3)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 years ago | (#40038633)

Ugh? You are aware of what country Obama is president of right?

Re:ugh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038675)

The United Kingdom, apparently!

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038685)

Someone needs to remind O'bama that Ireland became independent in 1922.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038963)

Yes and you're aware he's done nothing to stop this right?

Don't try to change the subject, it's an obvious liberal plot in play here. A ploy to steal our personal information for socialist agendas.

Re:ugh (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40038983)

I've seen greater ignorance. When the government's plans to increase surveilance capability were announced, a lot of people blamed the Queen.

Re:ugh (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40039151)

I blamed the queen for signing the RIP Act. She is supposed to be a last-stop constitutional safeguard, who can reset the system if the government goes completely hatstand. She didn't.

Re:ugh (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40039323)

She is a figurehead with a great deal of power on paper - but if she ever tried to exercise it, you can be sure that power would be taken away in short order.

Re:ugh (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40039375)

But it would have to be taken away with the consent of the electorate. I suspect a speech by the queen about why she refused to sign RIPA would have resulted in a lot of MPs looking for a new career...

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40041181)

Ok, as an American I have to ask. What does "MP" stand for in this context because the only definition I'm familiar with is "Military Police" which I'm reasonably certain isn't the correct definition here.

Re:ugh (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#40041995)

I'm not sure what country Obama thinks he's president of. He campaigned in Europe and thinks naught of other nations' borders.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038783)

WTH has Obama got to do with it?

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040073)

Yeah! Don't be mean to him. He earned a peace prize for gods sake!

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039111)

8/10---they fell for it

Other countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038507)

Would be interesting to submit F.o.I requests in other countries (that have them).

Shocker (5, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#40038527)

Give someone access to people's private information and it will be abused. Here I'm giving you this box that contains pure awesomeness. Please don't open it.

Re:Shocker (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40038617)

Wouldn't you want to look up famous people in the database? See how much tax they pay, etc. I sure would!

Re:Shocker (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#40038681)

And any half-decent auditing system would catch you very quickly indeed.

The thing is I'm absolutely sure in my own mind that despite the fact that the means to develop half-decent auditing systems has existed for years, I don't think they're terribly widely deployed. And if they are, I don't think very many organisations have processes in place to make sure that action is taken when the audit blows the whistle on someone.

This is based mostly on speculation rather than having any hard evidence, though. Would welcome comments from someone who does IT security professionally.

Re:Shocker (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038713)

Auditing systems only work to stop legitimate users of a database from making inappropriate queries, the database and system administrators, and in most cases network administrators have carte blanche access to anything and everything they are responsible for, and it is always a simple procedure to bypass any audit traps that may be in place.

Take the example of an Oracle DB on a Unix system, it is a pretty trivial task to make a copy of the entire hard disk (and database contained therein) without leaving a trace of your actions. These systems are both too simple and too complex to prevent access from a lower level of abstraction.

We put a huge amount of trust in system operators, and there is really no other way. At the end of the day, someone needs lowlevel access to the system to run diagnostics and perform maintenance, even in some security enhanced configuration like IBM AIX or z/OS, there is going to be a hardware maintenance mode, if not accessible by the site admin, it will be accessible by someone at IBM.

Re:Shocker (3, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#40038927)

It's pretty easy to overcome audits. Open a trivial case against the person you want to snoop on (littering or something), pull the data, and then close the case with "no further investigation". So everything looks legitimate, and the audit doesn't ring any alarms.

Re:Shocker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039233)

This depends on the system. The system mentioned by parent I don't think classifies as `half-decent`, even though it is how many CRM based systems work.

Half decent systems hide nearly all information until the case/person is identified correctly. Also this is recorded in audit information, with the relevant information that is shown initially as a search and the reason for opening/closing the case/person.

Most rigorous system that I am aware are for Police National Computer (PNC) checks. Most commonly used for motor vehicles, but also for criminal records. These are recorded against ID's and audited for non-authorised use. They can be checked, but frequent unauthorised personal use can get spotted (I think people who abuse generally will get complacent and addicted thankfully).

The worrying thing is that most of any identified misuses are related to sackings or recorded misconduct. The number of cases of unauthorised use therefore is likely more widespread and probably endemic.

Re:Shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038949)

How do you know the auditing doesn't work? They've caught 1,000 offenders - maybe that's the majority of them. Maybe the rise in reported cases over the last few years is a rise in detection rate, not a rise in number of offenses.

Re:Shocker (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40039505)

And any half-decent auditing system would catch you very quickly indeed.

They might have database triggers on obvious famous people[1] to catch stupid[2] people being bribed by Rupert Murdoch but what about people who look up school friends or whatever. That's unlikely to raise an eyebrow.

[1] But don't bet on it: This is government, the very definition of IT incompetence.
[2] You can bet the smart people can get access without being logged by 'borrowing' a superviser's password or a backup disk or whatever.

Re:Shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039763)

When I worked briefly for the DWP Accessing the records of 'famous' people triggers an automatic reponse from the validation unit which you then had to justify before you got access to the information.

In addition ANY access could generate a random validate meaning you then had to fill in the record form detailing why you tried to access it etc.

Re:Shocker (1)

jouassou (1854178) | about 2 years ago | (#40039319)

In Norway, the government information about capital, income and taxes is actually made public. If you login to the webpage of the Norwegian tax department [skatteetaten.no], you can snoop in the economy of any other citizen. That's the sneaky way of encouraging people to turn in their neighbors for tax fraud...

Re:Shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039951)

Ehm no, but I guess you're the type that buys tabloids? Bored with your own life?

"Disciplined" says it all (5, Insightful)

oobayly (1056050) | about 2 years ago | (#40038641)

Just shy of 1,000 civil servants ... were disciplined ...

WTF, how about sacking these people, they clearly can't be trusted in their position. Better still, make it a criminal offence (if it isn't already) and charge them.

I worked for the Ordnance Survey in Southampton after Uni. During training we were shown examples of where people had altered maps (someone wrote "HI" in land tiles in the North Sea, and a building was labled "Kate's cradle of filth"). It was explained to us that all work was logged. If caught we would be sacked. If we'd already left, we'd be chased up under the Official Secrets Act.

Whether it was all a threat, I don't know. But I certainly didn't risk finding out. Neither did any of my friends.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038705)

Nice use of the passive voice there. Someone needs to do the logging and catching. They must have been through the same training as you. If you secretly removed the S from Scunthorpe and then graduated to looking for mischief, you certainly wouldn't highlight your own "alterations".

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040057)

Reminds me of the chart of Egypt we had. A town's name had been changed from Fukkah to Mudda Fukkah.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038829)

Isn't Kate's Cradle of Filth a grade II listed building?

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | about 2 years ago | (#40038943)

This is the public sector we're talking about, you can't just fire people for gross misconduct, that would be discriminating against people who violate your policies.

I have personal experience of this, contracting for an NHS trust where one of the people in my team abused their access to snoop through peoples' emails, documents & web logs to try and find information that they could use to blackmail them into giving them perks & preferential treatment. We caught it within a couple of days and had witnesses and audit logs showing what they'd been doing (they weren't too bright when it came to covering their tracks) and handed the whole lot over to HR.

It took nearly 3 months before they even suspended him; almost 2 years later they had botched everything so badly that they had to pay this person off to leave quietly and not take them to an employment tribunal.

That anyone ever gets fired from a public sector role without having broken some pretty major laws is nothing short of a miracle.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (1)

Inda (580031) | about 2 years ago | (#40039649)

In a small English town of 120,000 people, the chances of knowing someone who works in the local council offices, for just a little over the minimum wage, is high. They probably went to school together. They probably share drinks. They probably share data too.


It's rife.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040839)

Took the HR drone 3 months to be sure that the guy didn't have blackmail data on themselves.

Once that was out of the way, it took them just a few seconds.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038953)

As soon as civil service pay was cut, most of the trustworthy reliable and honest civil servants found themselves in a position where they could get better wages in the private sector. On the lower wages, what you retain are all the people who aren't confident that they could get a job elsewhere. You get what you pay for.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039691)

I'm an ex civil servant who did just that (i.e. moved off to private sector contracting job) Having recently worked back at a civs place I can testify this is exactly what has happened. The people left doing the work have no clue what they're doing. Sad really when I look back how well it all used to run.

Re:"Disciplined" says it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039099)

I also worked there shortly. Lost my job for drawing a penis in the peak district contour lines...

Re:Shocker (2)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40038797)

I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the data accessed is nothing like a box containing pure awesomeness. In fact, given the people that I see only my daily commute it would be like the Ark of the Covenant, except when you open it pure boredom comes out and melts your face off.

Re:Shocker (5, Informative)

niftydude (1745144) | about 2 years ago | (#40038835)

Not just private information. I used to consult to a roads authority that I'll keep nameless for now.

They had remote controllable ccd cameras all over the place to keep track of traffic flow etc.

Whenever I went in, one of the cameras would almost always be pointing at the girl who used to sunbathe in her back yard in a property very close to a major intersection.

Incredibly creepy.

Re:Shocker (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 2 years ago | (#40039297)

And you didn't bother to figure out who it was and tell her? Or file a complaint with management?

Re:Shocker (2)

am 2k (217885) | about 2 years ago | (#40039389)

And you didn't bother to figure out who it was and tell her? Or file a complaint with management?

Yeah, he might even have managed to make the superior glare in a very annoying way at the people controlling the camera!

Re:Shocker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039275)

It depends on what you call abuse - I have in my possession, a database containing serious amounts of information on about 2 million UK housing association tenants. Names, email, date of birth, addresses, history, comments, disabilities, concerns, criminal records, complaints, dependants etc etc etc. There was no access control for this database, I could copy it at will. It would be a scammers dream to get hold if it.

Have I done anything with it? Nope, never will, sits on one of my archive backups. Would this be classed as a serious incident if it were discovered? Definitely.

Re:Shocker (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40039431)

Don't worry. The government leaves an up-to-date copy of that in the back of random taxi every few months to make sure the scammers don't miss out.

Citizen Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038579)

All I could picture was Data from ST:TNG walking around saying "Rusebud"

Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038601)

Clearly they're just trying to find something to do in between watching episodes of Jeremy Kyle, so they're not wasting their time doing stuff like work.

Nothing to fear... (5, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | about 2 years ago | (#40038657)

These people, though, were doing nothing wrong so they have nothing to fear from these unelected civil servants poking through their personal information, right?

Lack of information (5, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 2 years ago | (#40038707)

The problem I have with these figures is that they give no details of the nature of the offences.

Were these all "I want to find embarrassing data on my ex or a celebrity!"? Were some of them just "staff member legitimately needed to access an account and should've waited for his boss to authorise first".

How many of them were procedural mistakes and how many were genuine cases of snooping? A high number of the former would paint a very different picture and asks different questions to a higher number of the latter. But then Dispatches is a horribly sensationalist program so I doubt they care.

Re:Lack of information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038845)

How many of them were procedural mistakes and how many were genuine cases of snooping?

This question alone shows a big flaw in the system. It is set up in way that makes it impossible for the taxpayers to check if the government workers are doing their job.
They can basically waste millions of £ without actually doing anything that benefits society at all and there is no way for you to make sure that they do their best to work effeciently.

I think it is safest to assume that all of them were genuine cases of snooping, at least that encourages them to improve the transparancy slightly.

Re:Lack of information (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 2 years ago | (#40038929)

To be honest, I think they could've got the information quite easily, in fact they likely have it in the data they received. As I said before Dispatches are incredibly sensationalist, they will always try to aim for the biggest shock they can rather than having a more detailed look.

0% procedural, 100% Murdoch (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038853)

These are disciplinary actions, not administrative errors. Verbal ticking offs don't get listed. So they'll all real breaches.

“unauthorised disclosures of official, sensitive, private and/or personal information”,
I wonder how many of these are civil servants handing data over to Murdoch's newspapers & TV interests, given we know his newspapers even hacked telephones, buying info from civil servants about celebrities and politicians seems extremely likely. I wouldn't be surprised if a large percentage of those leaks were to Murdochs lot.

But the big revelation is that there are 200,000 civil servants approved to access the databases. That's an insane number! What did they expect, 200,000 possible leak points, the system is designed to leak private data like a sieve.
Most likely these are only the leaks that CAN BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED as leaks. I think that's the TIP OF THE ICEBERG, since most of the data leakers would NEVER GET CAUGHT.

Re:0% procedural, 100% Murdoch (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40040295)

It came out during the Levison Inquiry that News Corp's papers had access to people's medical records. It seems likely that somoene with access to them handed them over in exchange for cash, since no evidence of hacking has emerged.

Re:Lack of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039653)

Spot-on. I work in the NHS and I personally know one person who was disciplined for checking a relative's appointment date/time, simply because all the people who should be doing that kind of thing either stonewalled the patient or just wouldn't answer the damn phone. So that's one of their statistical number.
The other side of this is one (female) member of staff accessing another staff member's records and using the information to stalk him, e.g. telling the guy's wife she was sleeping with him, etc. She was moved to a different department(!) but is, to my knowledge, still working there. Another of their statistical numbers.

Dispatches, as with the other shows of its ilk (including those on the BBC, these days), are video equivalents of a Daily Mail story: sensationalised bullshit not even on nodding acquaintance with the truth.

Posting as AC out of only partially unreasonable paranoia.

Fining local authorities is stupid. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038717)


The penalties for a criminal offence go up to £5,000 ($7,900) in a lower magistrates court, or an unlimited fine in a higher Crown court. Some British politicians even called for some extreme data breaches to result in prison sentences — something dismissed by other parliamentary committee members. Rarely does the fine rise to five-figures, let alone six. Only recently, one Scottish local authority was fined £140,000 ($220,000) for five separate data breaches — the highest fine imposed by the courts to date.

When you fine the government, they just increase taxes. We need some personal accountability here.

Re:Fining local authorities is stupid. (2)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 2 years ago | (#40038833)

You mean like staff being disciplined?

Re:Fining local authorities is stupid. (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#40038997)

You mean like staff being disciplined?

Only if by "disciplined" you meant something along the lines of 100 very brisk strokes of a cane to their naked body in the public square while being nationally televised, ending with a distinctive hot-iron brand to the middle of the criminal's forehead along with a lifelong ban on holding any public job or political office ever again.

If you meant the more typical docking of salary and/or temporary suspension, then, no.

I hope that clears things up for you. :)


Re:Fining local authorities is stupid. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40039441)

When you fine the government, they just increase taxes. We need some personal accountability here.

Yep. The government 'fining' itself only moves money from one place to another, nobody feels terribly punished afterwards (unless they were planning to 'divert' it for their own use). It should be automatic firing (for minor offenses) or prison (for bigger offenses).

Human nature (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40038753)

This sort of thing always happens. The only way we could even begin to reduce it is to automatically fire anyone caught doing it, followed by criminal prosecution. Even then people will try to get away with it.

The only sane solution is to just accept that it can't be prevented and not allow data to be made available in this way.

Re:Human nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039421)

I worked in IT at a hospital. My boss asked me to use my admin rights to access health records of a seriously-sick co-worker (whom also was directly under my boss). I refused, pointing out that doing so was a firing offense. I didn't get the same raises as my other co-workers. Cause-and-effect? Maybe. Could I prove it? No.

Also, note that there was no policy against asking/demanding a worker to violate the privacy policy, but it was your job if you were caught violating the privacy policy.

Re:Human nature (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40039451)

Some of those breaches would be done by people who were being bribed to get dirt on other people. Firing somebody won't prevent the breaches, it just raises the price of the bribe.

Like it will just be civil servants... (3, Insightful)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#40038773)

The FOI request revealled the number of civil servants who had done it but private enterprise is not subject to that act. The same thing will go on but it will never be publicised.

And I'm not going to buy any arguments that private enterprise security procedures would prevent it.

Re:Like it will just be civil servants... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039515)

Well, they will, *if* the corporate culture is clean. In my company, I know of one guy who was summarily fired and marched out of the building for poking into people's e-mail. Out the door on the day of discovery. And us average guys thought that was a darn good thing.

But, I can imagine other companies that might not care; if the average guys doesn't care, then it might not even get reported. Corporations vary a lot: it doesn't make sense to put them all in the same box. Some care about X, some care about Y. A few (mostly ones on the way out) just don't care. And, what the corporation cares about isn't necessarily what the upper management wants it to care about, either.

England != UK (3, Informative)

monktus (742861) | about 2 years ago | (#40038913)

If true, this is a Bad Thing (though not terribly surprising). TFS is a bit wrong though. The Department of Health is not responsible for the NHS across the UK, and never has been. It has only ever been responsible for health in England and Wales, with the latter being devolved to the Welsh Assembly in 1999. Arrangements for social services are a little dfferent, but again this isn't necessarily relevant to all of the UK. Not that civil servants in devolved departments are perfect, but this is just another example of the UK stopping at the M25 (don't worry America, it's not just you, the British MSM and Westminster politicians do it all the time).

Re:England != UK (2)

MrMickS (568778) | about 2 years ago | (#40038975)

If you read the linked article you will see:

Only recently, one Scottish local authority was fined £140,000 ($220,000) for five separate data breaches — the highest fine imposed by the courts to date.

Furthermore the summary was quoting the original article, hence the quotation marks, so don't take it out on the summary.

List of UK data loses (4, Interesting)

Azarman (1730212) | about 2 years ago | (#40038939)

Sadly this will never get the attension it needs, the goverment will keep pushing for a single centrizied database either for the children for under the need to stop terrorisum, even with their track record of data fail. But we are just numbers right so who cares

WIkilink to list of UK data loses we know about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UK_government_data_losses [wikipedia.org]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7103566.stm [bbc.co.uk]

We know the goverment can track cars in real time, intercept sms and phone calls in real time, and after the centerized commications they will be able to cross ref that with your internet habbits. All in one super database to stop terrorisum.

I wrote to my MP who is a tory, I had a bit of a rant about the Goverment U-turning on this retraining data as it is one of the reasons i personally voted for them. The guy replied but it was like reading BBC news, a sales pitch that was all fluff and no content. It was all about stopping terrorisum it was just pure propaganda to push an ageneder that I personally did not think this MP was even aware of, it just seemed he was given a press release, told this is what he is going to be doing and refusing to look at anything else. The funny thing was I also wrote to my councilers and they also sent him letters along the same lines as mine all to be met with the same reply. Everyone is against this, and MPs are not even listening to their own people to pushing their own agenders.


Re:List of UK data loses (2)

Dominic (3849) | about 2 years ago | (#40039475)

You realise that absolutely everything the Tories said to get elected was a lie, not just that? Same old Tories.

Re:List of UK data loses (2)

Azarman (1730212) | about 2 years ago | (#40040501)

Yes I do, sadly however it is only recently that I started seeing just how much of our political history is just on repeat. And how little it changes. Example in the 1960-1970s there was an enquiry in to the amount of Freemasons in the met office, and while goggling for some more information I find this, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/08/phone-hacking-scandal-jonathan-rees [guardian.co.uk] I am not some conspiracy nut here there is a direct link between Government and MET office via freemasons lodges. There have also been some freemasons who have become prime minister such as Churchill who was rather proud of this connection (tho his family now state he left the lodges in 1912) and rumours are that Blair is also one. Did you know that 4 weeks before Blair got voted in he joined the world exclusive club of the Bilderbergers in the USA? It was reported at the time but very little of this now remains findable

Regardless of their ties I don’t think we have had a government in a long time that cares for the people. Labour and Tory both help their friends first or however gives them the most money or the biggest platform to sell their warez from (newsCorpDiggHere) . Anyway if anyone is still reading here is some fun links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_scandals_in_the_United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org] funny. Also this has amused me http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Freemasons [wikipedia.org] look how many prime ministers there are all over the world :/

Truth be told let’s get the Pirate Party going, its working in Germany and Sweden it’s time to merge Labour and Tories in to the same party because they have been for the same party for a while. I think Libdems are cheerleaders and a bad attempt to pull in the younger voters. I think if we could get the younger voters awake then we could start knocking out labour and tories from local MP seats in the next election. My hope is after the recent TPB block the PPUK website got a lot more more views (http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/tt26k/as_a_direct_result_of_the_pirate_bay_ban_the/). I beg to god, the Creator, and The man running the matrix, that this is the start of a change that will put a government back in the role of serving the people instead of serving businesses and banks. Because at this rate the government will spend so much money that if I ever have children they will be in the same place I am, paying for debts that the generations before me racked up


Re:List of UK data loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040205)

And the moral of the story is...

Never vote Tory, ever. They cannot be trusted. Not saying labour are much better mind you...

Friend = Police Officer x 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40038969)

I have 2 Police office friends, Well did have 2. One of them has admitted a number of times to just searching the records of people from school, friends and family. Basiclly the system is there he had nothing to do and just have a poke around, it jokes its like a secret facebook for police only. I dont have any secerts to hide, (my record has one instance of "he was stolen from" when i was 13 and lost a bike but some of my family are not so clean and now my friend knows all about them. The abuse of this information is every day and the people that do it do not think they are doing anything wrong, they are just using the tools they have been given for their own personal amusement.

UK going the way US has? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039059)

"Minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth in the decade that ended in 2010"


Who is white? Are Middle East pople and Jews among the white? Or is it just Europeans?


UK going the way US has? What would the time frame be? Does it matter? To whom? Is this why UK is snooping on citizens?

Would be interesting to know (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | about 2 years ago | (#40039073)

if any of these breaches can be linked to articles that have appeared in the British press.

and that's just the breaches... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40039229)

...that we already know about, never mind the ones they've so far managed to bury.

The simple fact of the matter is, there is no system-level security. It's a system of trust where the ones with access cannot be trusted. They are, to put it mildly, and without exception, un-trust-worthy.

Fire every single one of them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039325)

Let that be a lesson that the government won't be fucked with
Actually profit because these lazy asses aren't leeching off government money to spy on people.

Now you can automate more of the system without a case of "oh but people will be put out of a job".
Public work ain't a job unless you do something. Spying on people due to laziness isn't a job. Even the spooks do work.

In the US they sold data to foreign spies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40039435)

In the US they sold data to foreign spies and organized crime.

And So it begins (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40040111)

Local police exploit the cesspool stream media about how 3 out of 4 people who get arrested have no job, have no health care, and are on some kind of drug. Why those horrible unemployed, uninsured, drug people, Mortgage fraud is okay, cooking books okay, banksters ole, no monetary terrorists here, and now for some kim kardashian's ass, myley cyrus nipple.

At great cost, expense, and complete fucking retardedness, 100's of the most wanted people mass arrested in Stockton, California, only to be released right back out. COPS say they are going back out again to do the same thing. Residents ask if this isn't a waste of resources. Stockton has been barely not become bankrupt recently. There's those fucked up iclei city council again. No CAFR documents, no puss stream media, no conspiracy here!

Facebook IPO $38 a share, this won't end well, but hey send our fuckin miac report brainwashed cops out to shoot another child for the crime of pulling a stuffed banana, after all that domestic terrorist child had it coming, and all those fucking lemon-aid stands, bakesales'. give me a break, it's work to smash them all down under your fucking new boots! Stiffen weak mind controlled noses, and get a nice sniff of that Macy's pussy, (better stroke fast the commercial's about to end) on sale up to %20. Metal thieves now are stealing Urinals out of Mc Donaldz. Some anonymous drug company rep said marijuana smells so bad, can't cure cancer, and just turns teens minds to mush where they start to sniff paint.

Radio hosts giggle it up when confronted with Constitutional law. In order to be President, a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, must be at least thirty-five years old, and must have been a resident of the United States for fourteen years. They think it's so funny. Ha ha ha Laughing it up. Meanwhile cops in Tennessee are stealing from people they pull over. One guy lost $22,000 trying to buy his eBay/Paypall car. FOr others with amounts like $1- $2 hiring the attorney makes it not worth getting justice. Is any of this on the radio? Not a fucking bit.

People are bad, Banksters, Oath Breakers and Criminals are good. Everything is okay. Fukushima is fixed, The Fish are fine, Seafood is great eat it up. Try some gmo corn, or gmo rice, gmo hfcs, oh damn 70% of people are FAT... hmmm. There's those shitty Monsanto, UN Agenda 21 Senators again. Vote Vote Vote Diebold Premiere SPAIN Instant Vapor Removal Counter, why bother to vote, oath breaking criminals are the only choice? The Constitution is gone, not one mother fucker in government isn't in prison? That's right they aren't the bad people. These aren't the bad people. The bad people is you drug addicted, unemployed, uninsured, sick fuckers, that's why we're putting the tanks in the streets, the drones in the air, hardening up your local cop show with cast offs. That's why there's some new organization which has replaced the constitution called DHS. But you'll laugh along with the puss stream media on that too.

won't you

that isn't a question, it's what you will do

Oh this just in, breaking news, those metal thieves again, Catalytic Converters, Copper wire, Plumbing, Street Lighting, they're on meth and police can't keep up with all these bad people who keep stealing less than $65 trillion. Oh yeah, firefighters are protesting cuts to their pensions, which were stolen by the TBTF, along with their mortgages and the rest of this fraud as a business model bullshit.

The oath that I took in the USAF, would put me directly in conflict with the current DHS . Now either my mind is scrambled, or somebody has fucked this country.

Austerity measures (1)

ehiris (214677) | about 2 years ago | (#40040229)

Just picture that the austerity measures taken by different European governments means that they will have completely dissatisfied government employees who will still have access to the same data that they had before.

The creative ways in which they use that power is a problem that will only get bigger.

For example, in Romania they have a system in which government employees feed information about pre-communist owners of buildings to their business partners so that they can buy the building rights from people who no longer live in Romania and who have no interest of going back but who still want to make a little bit of easy money. As a result most historic buildings and even parts of hospitals are being snatched up from under people who lived/worked there for the past 25-50 years and the scam artists are moving in.

Re:Austerity measures (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40040723)

oh your fucking God, austerity measures in Greece? Joke. Italy? Beyond a joke. Spain? Don't even go there. Never mind the rest of Europe, who are all in the exact same mess. The Euro is going down the pan and it's dragging the Dollar and Sterling with it. The plug hole is gurgling and gagging on the shit sandwich of which we'll all soon have to take a HUGE bite.

Fear Not Citizen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40041039)

Fear not citizen. The intimate personal data that we collect and store in perpetuity is perfectly safe in the hands of your government. It is protected form improper use/access and will be used only in a legal fashion, with court orders and warrants, only when absolutely necessary for the safety of our nation and you, yourself.

Don't resist our desire to collect and store this information. Resistance implies guilt. You don't want to aid terrorism and pedophiles do you? Besides, if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. You're not doing anything wrong are you?

Think of the children.

P.S. the captcha reads "foretold". How the fuck does it know?

Why I am against... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40041053)

And this is why I am against any sort of central medical database.

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