The goldfish bowl

The latest news on data breaches:

Government departments and private companies have reported an “alarming” number of new data breaches in the wake of the recent HM Revenue and Customs fiasco.

Details of nearly 100 cases of data breaches, two thirds committed by government departments or other public sector bodies, have been passed to the authorities, the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said.

He warned organisations to step up security as he released details of the wave of new breaches, including unencrypted information lost on laptops, computer discs, paper records and memory sticks lost, stolen or missing in the post.

Undaunted, the government bulldozers ahead towards its goal of a single record system. I’ve just been re-reading the government’s ‘Harnessing Technology’ (pdf) today. Ostensibly it’s about using ICT in education, but as the role of schools expands into welfare, inevitably education and social care records start to merge.

It’s an extension of the approach piloted in Connexions, where personal problems are seen as ‘barriers to learning’ that must be dealt with. Thus the government wants to:

Ensure integrated online personal support for children and learners…

Support children’s and learners’ transition and progression by developing and implementing a common approach to personal records across education and children’s services, including public and private organisations and industry.

It hardly needs saying that the scale of data breaches can only increase with the amount of data collected. How strange to think that the government was once so wary about the collection of children’s personal data that they introduced the School Census one small step at a time. Less than ten years later, it’s hard to think of any personal data that isn’t fair game for the ‘joined-up’ treatment.


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