A recurring theme in this blog is not just that the Government seems determined to trample over the data protection rights of the UK population, but that they are singularly inept at ensuring that the state machinery treats various data sources in a careful and secure manner.

From databases left on trains, to stolen laptops contaning databases of personal data, I (and I guess many others) view Wacky Jacqui’s upcoming Uber-database that will be made possible by a combination of databases (including the vile IMP comms database and that of the ridiculous ID card scheme) using the "interesting" clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill Part 8 – Data Protection Act 1998 (c. 29).  This empowers Ministers to direct the linkage of diferent databases.

Now we hear that the files of over 17,000 asylum seekers have been lost (The Guardian).  It’s not clear from this report whether these are digital files or hard copy, but it’s just another illustration of the laxity with which he civil service seems to treat personal data.  As the articles says:

This follows a series of high-profile losses of data, including an Inland Revenue CD with the details of 25 million child-benefit claimants, four CDs with the names of dozens of magistrate court defendants and witnesses, and a Ministry of Defence laptop containing details of 620,000 recruits and potential recruits. 

The startling ineptitude is the tip of the iceberg: apparently the  UK Border Agency has a backlog of about 200,000 cases asylum cases to deal with.  One wonders if the principal strategy is to encourage asylum seekers to experience such glacial progress in their claims that they lose heart and try another country.  Or perhaps just die of old age.