I doubt there’s anyone who doesn’t know about HMRC’s Child Benefit debacle by now. As you can imagine, we’re a bit busy and the phone has got heat exhaustion.
This is the press release we put out earlier (NB the numbers have gone up since we sent this out):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 20TH NOVEMBER 2007
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ORGANISATION ‘STUNNED’ BY HMRC DATA LOSS
Action on Rights for Children is stunned to learn that HMRC has lost computer disks containing the details of the UK’s 15 million children.
Terri Dowty, Director of ARCH said: “This appalling security lapse has placed children in the UK in immediate danger especially those who are already vulnerable. Child Benefit records contain every child’s address and date of birth. We are not surprised that the Chair of HMRC’s Board has resigned immediately.”
Last year Terri Dowty co-authored a report for the Information Commissioner which highlighted the risks to children’s safety of the government’s policy of creating large, centralised databases containing sensitive information about children. The government chose to dismiss the concerns of the reports authors.
“The government has recently passed regulations allowing them to build databases containing details of every child in England. They have also announced an intention to create a second national database containing the in-depth personal profiles of children using services. They have batted all constructive criticism away, and repeatedly stressed that children’s data is safe in their hands.
“The events of today demonstrate that this is simply not the case, and all of our concerns for children’s safety are fully justified.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The report ‘Children’s Databases: Safety and Privacy’ can be downloaded from: http://www.fipr.org/childrens_databases.pdf