Her Majesty's Massive Data Breach
Add the personal details of most every child in the U.K. to the growing tally of sensitive consumer information misplaced by those entrusted with it. Because two CDs containing child benefit information on every family in Britain with a child under 16 have gone missing.
HM Revenue and Customs Chancellor Alistair Darling broke the news to the public in a statement to the House of Commons, met with gasps of incredulity from those in attendence.
… 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 post system operated by the courier TNT. The package was not recorded or registered. Mr. Speaker, it appears the data has failed to reach the addressee in the NAO.
“… The missing information contains details of all child benefit recipients: records for 25 million individuals and 7.25 million families. These records include the recipient and their children’s names, addresses and dates of birth; it includes child-benefit numbers, national insurance numbers and, where relevant, bank or building society account details.”
Astonishing, eh? Even more so given that the package containing the CDs–which was never registered or recorded–was mailed Oct. 18.
Lawmakers and politicians met news of the breach with well-practiced outrage. Said Shadow Chancellor George Osborne: “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.”