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Government Privacy The Internet United Kingdom Technology

Every British Citizen To Have a Personal Webpage 313

Posted by timothy
from the you-have-6-asbos-waiting-and-no-guns dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is about to announce that within a year everyone in Great Britain will be given a personalized webpage for accessing Government services as part of a plan to save billions of pounds by putting all public services online. The move could see the closure of job centers and physical offices dealing with tax, vehicle licensing, passports and housing benefits within 10 years as services are offered through a single digital gateway. [This] 'saves time for people and it saves money for the Government — the processing of a piece of paper and mailing it back costs many times more than it costs to process something electronically,' says Tim Berners-Lee, an advisor to the Prime Minister. However, the proposals are coming under fire from union leaders who complain that thousands of public sector workers would be made jobless and pointed to the Government's poor record of handling personal data. 'Cutting public services is not only bad for the public who use services but also the economy as we are pushing people who provide valuable services on the dole,' says one union leader."
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Every British Citizen To Have a Personal Webpage

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  • Surveillance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daniel.waterfield (960460) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:03PM (#31553066) Homepage Journal
    It also makes us nice and easy to keep an eye on. All our activity now leaves a nice little easy to follow trail. Much nicer for the government to follow than before.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:07PM (#31553126)

    Will they also be providing a computer for everyone will no longer be able to go to a local government office?

  • Re:What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:08PM (#31553130)

    No. Just stupid title. But summary was clear enough.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:13PM (#31553188)

    so there are thousands of government workers that could easily be replaced by a small pile of silicon chips and a bit of electricity, and they are said to provide "valuable service"? I have an idea, let them go work and provide something of actual value, or let them starve to death. win / win either way.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:25PM (#31553278) Journal
    With suitably malicious design, it could be a very convenient tool for surveillance(a visited link scanner [gnucitizen.org] seeded with a list of URLs that the feds might be interested in your having visited, would be a trivial example, various sorts of cookie snooping, cross-site scripting, history inference, and so forth attacks could also be used, in addition to boring old IP geolocation and date/timestamping).

    However, in absence of these sorts of fairly overt malicious features(which would fly right past the noobs; but would be hard to hide from security researchers for more than a few minutes), I'm not sure that a move from a paper 'n civil servants based frontend to a web based frontend actually makes all that much difference. In both cases, you are doing some nontrivial data dump/exchange with the state, either because some law obliges you to, or because you want the state to do something for you based on that information. That act of data transfer is the point of the exercise, and occurs in either case. Also, unless the British civil service is far behind the times, the data end up being dumped in a big database somewhere no matter which frontend you use. It isn't as though a people and paper frontend implies a people and paper backend, just a more expensive translation process.

    With the exception of fairly visible malicious techniques, a web site doesn't provide all that much useful information in itself. Any attempt by the state to use such techniques should, of course, by resisted fiercely by both technological and political means; but fretting about cookies is largely a distraction from the serious area of data disclosure, which is whatever forms you are going to the website explicitly to fill out.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:29PM (#31553302) Journal
    Unless the public library system in the UK is markedly worse than that of the US, it would probably be cheaper just to make sure that local libraries have some computers, assuming they don't already, and somebody on staff with a clue about the site(which will be more or less automatic, since librarians would also be users of it, and tend to be nonidiots in general) and just have people go there.
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Katatsumuri (1137173) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:32PM (#31553322)

    The amount of paperwork and legwork to get anything government-related done is untolerable in this day and age. We should have been enjoying electronic government for at least 15 years by now. Finally someone up there is getting it.

    Now half of the posts here will be about the stupid "personal webpage" phrasing that has nothing to do with the actual idea, and the other half will be about an Orwellian apocalypse. Which may be well-grounded, as British government earned some bad reputation in regards to privacy.

    However, I would still argue that this is a step in the right direction, and it is inevitable in the long run. We as a technical community should suggest ways to protect privacy with proper modern protocols, not with the obscurity of 18th century style paperwork.

    I also hope that the governments in other countries will follow the example.

  • Evil conservative (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:39PM (#31553370)

    let them go work and provide something of actual value, or let them starve to death. win / win either way.

    A little harsh, but not a troll. Why should the government be exempt from good stewardship with tax revenue?

    I've heard it said that schools exist so the teachers have jobs. Toll booths remain open, even though they only support the employees and bring in no further revenue.

    There is no reason the government should be allowed to waste money just so someone has a job. Might as well pay one person to dig a hole and another to fill it back up. But that would only make sense if it was a union job.

    In the private sector, a leech who doesn't care about his customers quickly goes out of business. In the public sector, a leech who doesn't care about his customers forms a union.

  • by jabithew (1340853) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:44PM (#31553416)

    Yes, to quote Yes Minister;

    Sir Humphrey: It sets a dangerous precedent.
    Jim Hacker: What, you mean if we do the right thing now we might have to do it again later?

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davester666 (731373) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:44PM (#31553422) Journal

    Yes. Go to this page to find out all the information you need to steal this persons identity.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:46PM (#31553434) Journal
    I'm not sure that your examples of doctors, and military are actually as distinct from the IT experience as one might like.

    When some system has gone casters-up, users screaming, immediate crisis, people are happy to talk to(and typically blame) IT. Similarly, when somebody staggers into the ER, they usually obey the doctor, whether actively or de-facto because they aren't conscious enough to do anything else. When a shooting war erupts, the military commonly acquires substantial clout, and control over operations.

    However, far fewer people are interested in listening to IT people give long boring talks about all the money and time they will need to build a system that actually functions. They are, in fact, almost exactly as willing to do that as they are to listen to, and follow, their doctor's advice on boring stuff like diet and exercise(and god help the poor epidemiologist who gives politically unpalatable advice like "Y'know, a food system based on subsidizing corn-syrup is turning us into lardasses" or "No, we shouldn't squander valuable antibiotics in order to make meat incrementally cheaper" or "Guess how many excess deaths the pollution from $FAVORED_LOCAL_INDUSTRY causes every year?"). On the military side, armies are commonly handled conflicts created and defined by outside political conditions, equipped with whatever hardware had the most persuasive vendor, and expected to achieve a politically satisfactory objective.

    The details vary, of course, from situation to situation; but I'd say that all of those areas suffer from the common problem of having high short-term clout(once the shit has hit the fan, people generally cling to the experts who might save their sorry asses as though they were drowning babies); but far too little systemic clout to head off the problems that they can easily see coming(nobody wants to hear IT whine about vulnerabilities that might be exploited, they want to act surprised when they do get exploited. Nobody wants to reform their diet and exercise because of some doctor's mumbo-jumbo about cholesterol counts; but they are surprisingly willing to let the same doctor chop them open and do emergency maintenance when they keel over. During wartime, you can get excoriated for not supporting the troops hard enough; but that doesn't mean that you have to listen to their assesments of the situation on the ground, or even bother to order the hardware that they say they need.)
  • by pydev (1683904) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:48PM (#31553450)

    'Cutting public services is not only bad for the public who use services but also the economy as we are pushing people who provide valuable services on the dole,' says one union leader

    Hey, let's engineer a couple of oil-spills, too! Jobs for thousands of people, and those people will be performing valuable services!

  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:50PM (#31553474)
    Who or whom marked this guy as a troll? He's absolutely spot on. The Unions see the public services as job creation schemes, rather than providers of useful facilities for citizens. This tells you all you need to know about why public services are so bloated and give poor value for money.
  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:56PM (#31553532) Homepage

    Err, what?

    As far as I can tell, no new information is being collected. They're simply moving from paper to bits -- the sort of thing that most Slashdotters would have encouraged before we were invaded by the Ayn Rand disciples. It makes the government more accessible, convenient, and efficient.

  • Re:It's about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:10PM (#31553606)

    You're a youngster aren't you.

    You have no idea what a government might do given the technology. You think fascism is just something you read about in the history books. You don't even seem to realise that parts of Orwell's prediction have already come true. You are a frog in a pot and you don't even realise its on the gas.

    Just take a walk through central London and see the machine guns and CCTV following you around everywhere you go. Are you old enough to drive? Take a drive through London. You number plate is logged and stored. Go to the British Library and ask to see on of their many books. Your name and the book you asked to see will be logged and stored permanently. The police have instant access to your location via your mobile phone. Believe it or not, in the not too distant past, it was possible to travel anywhere in the country, to buy almost anything you wanted to buy, to speak to anyone by phone without it being monitored.

    We're already half way down the slippery slope, and you make some cheap joke about at the expense of those who are concerned about it.

    One thing is for sure, if someone stops it, it won't be thanks to you.

  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:10PM (#31553614)

    ... to stand in the way of progress. Unions have a long history of holding milking their employers with little regard to the overall health of the business (who cares if GM is going down the toilet, so long as the retired union guys gets their pension) . Here is yet another case where they are holding their own pocketbooks as more important than all else. As a tax payer, I'd rather see the govt get rid of agencies that are manually processing paperwork (inconsistently at that) and automate as much as possible. However, I do strongly feel that you should be able to reach a real person if something needs straightened out.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:10PM (#31553618)

    Please stop pretending to know anything about the world, just in case some poor sod believes you.

    It's hard for us to know what's really going on as you guys are across the ocean and our media is not to be trusted.

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:19PM (#31553666)

    Exactly; people seldom see it this way, but 'useless government jobs' *are* basically just another form of welfare (just not in intent, necessarily).

  • by mmarlett (520340) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:30PM (#31553744)

    Yeah, who cares about the jobs lost? Those jobs are shit jobs. I mean, who wants to preserve a job that is retyping something that someone else wrote? Screw that. Free people up. Let them actually think about things. I bump into this all the time. I just had a conversation with a friend of mine in IT and we were standing on the street corner shouting this same thing into the air. If the computer can do it, then it's repetitive and boring. Stupid, stupid work. There are hard things that people do well that actually is worth something. People just do not think when they worry about protecting this sort of job.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:57PM (#31553940)

    should, of course, by resisted fiercely by both technological and political means

    So paper-bound inefficiency and insecurity is a good thing?

    "union leaders who complain that thousands of public sector workers would be made jobless" is absolutely absurd of course. If anything, cut those jobs and send the people their paycheck anyway with the money the government is saving, instead of having them do unnecessary work all day.

  • Re:Terminology... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:11PM (#31554018) Journal
    Not necessarily. Those employed by the government maintaining roads, for example, provide valuable infrastructure support. If they were to enter the private sector then the cost to the economy from degraded communication would be greater than the gain from their extra incomes. If, on the other hand, we're talking about people copying data from printed forms into computers, then it doesn't matter whether they are in the public or private sector; doing a superfluous job does not create any wealth, no matter who does it, and does incur an opportunity cost.
  • by Tassach (137772) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:13PM (#31554032)

    Sadly, there are a lot of people who are simply incapable of performing any job that requires original or creative thought. Call me an elitist if you will, but you know it's true. There are only so many burgers that need to be flipped, floors that need to be mopped, etc.

    Put someone into a job that's beyond their capacity they'll do it poorly, be miserable while doing it, and make everyone everyone miserable in the process.

    A casual acquaintance from high school has been working for the last 25 years cleaning up roadkill for the county, and he's as happy as a pig in slop doing what most people here would consider a shit job. He'd consider any job that involved more math than tallying up how many critters he scraped off the pavement to be the "shit job".

  • Maybe it's mutual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gonoff (88518) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:57PM (#31554326)

    I'm not even sure I want to even visit the UK anymore

    And I would really like to go to the USA again. The problems are getting there, getting in and being safe.
    Getting there, we are forced to go through a ridiculous amount of control and surveillance - and that is from a Brit.
    Getting in involves getting past your (in)famous immigration. I will get asked questions, may have my property confiscated and may even get jailed for hitting some drone on the fist with my face.
    Safe? In the USA? According to the media, everyone carries - law abiding, police, bankers and other criminals.

    I once went in uniform. Got to the base and was issued an M16. Next time, I want an M1 Abrams!

    Police state? Yes we had someone shot by them here once - Jean Charles De Menezes in 2005. He was unusual. Normally, you need to at least pretend or carry a chair leg or something. Your police are described as a little more trigger happy.

  • by JackDW (904211) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:12PM (#31554406) Homepage

    I'd like to know how it differs from www.direct.gov.uk.

    The UK Government created Directgov several years ago for exactly the reasons stated in TFA.

    How many single, centralised points of access to Government services do we actually need?

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:13PM (#31554420)
    Hmm, what exactly are you talking about? Ayn Rand "disciples" are not exactly the first people to come to mind when it comes to concerns about privacy which is what GP was talking about. Not that they are not concerned with privacy, just that somebody like ACLU in the USA at least would come to mind first. And if you are right that this will not cause any expansion of government power, plus the fact that unions are bitching about loss of government jobs that this will entail, if anything Ayn Rand people would probably approve. And BTW, GP did not say that new information is being collected, just that it is easier to follow a trail of bits than a trail of paper which is true enough.
  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:16PM (#31554442)

    They're only "specious" if you don't understand them. The point is that there are lots of ways in which we can put people to work through useless jobs.

    I understood perfectly. It's still specious.

    An oil spill is a typical example for a bad event that, on paper, looks economically beneficial. And

    Except that an oil spill doesn't look beneficial on paper. Also, public servants working in an office is not equivalent to an oil spill (an economic and environmental disaster) - they are actually providing useful labor.

    And employing people in the government in order to do jobs that can be better done by machine is another such example.

    Can providing advice to people be done better by machine than in person? I don't see any clear evidence of this. In certain areas, face-to-face advice or counseling is much more efficient than machines.

    In a free market and with technological progress, jobs become obsolete and it makes no economic sense to continue employing people in those jobs

    That is obviously true for many cases, but not always. The problem is, you don't specify what "those jobs" are, and you actually liken "those jobs" to a disastrous accident.

    We all lose if groups like this union succeed in forcing the public to continue employing people in those jobs.

    "Those jobs" might actually be better performed by humans. But you provide no analysis of what these imaginary jobs are, and why they might be better provided by machines.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Smauler (915644) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @11:55PM (#31555196)

    The idea being that "health care" is a right. It's not a right, though. It's a product.

    It's a product every citizen should be able to have, just like something like a passport (which _is_ entirely provided by the government, and I would consider a right, excluding certain circumstances).

    I personally have not used the NHS at all for about 2 years (last time was when I was washing up a pint glass, and it broke, and cut into the side of my hand. A few stitches, and the nerve was severed so I feel nothing on the outside of my little finger). However, I far from begrudge my taxes going to it because not having healthcare is a proper nightmare, and I think everyone deserves it. I personally believe that anything above basic education is _way_ less of a right than healthcare, yet there's not the same issues about funding that.

    I do understand the difference between for example the right to bear arms and the right to healthcare. One is a right that the government cannot interfere in, the other is a right to something provided by the government. There are however plenty of things provided by the government of far less importance than basic healthcare.

  • by williamhb (758070) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @12:35AM (#31555356) Journal

    Yeah, who cares about the jobs lost? Those jobs are shit jobs. I mean, who wants to preserve a job that is retyping something that someone else wrote? Screw that. Free people up. Let them actually think about things.

    It is the last part that is an issue. Where pencil and paper, and where telephones are concerned, the person at the other end in the UK still has some leeway to use their own common sense. For example, there are many tax issues to which the solution is "write a letter explaining the situation to your local tax office" (or phone them up and talk to someone). Where web forms are concerned, the fixed Java code at the other end doesn't really care a toss about any letters you write. You might moan about "inflexible bureaucrats", but automatic processing is even less flexible than that. Welcome to the world of "computer says no".

    There is also always an overestimation of the amount of money saved. Not only because governments are bad at estimates (though they are) but because the government is the only employer that gets about a third of whatever it pays straight back in tax (more if you count the flow-on effects that they also tax everyone you buy anything from, so get a fair whack of your "after tax" income too).

  • by williamhb (758070) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @12:47AM (#31555414) Journal

    Good news the UK government is getting involved in another large IT project... So we can assure ourself of two things, first off this will be hugely overbudget, and secondly it will never remotely do what they had originally intended. How is that NHS system coming? That nationwide police database? That system to monitor people entering and leaving the country? ...

    The UK government has a bad track record of IT. They do stuff by committee and hire tons of "consultants" who only seem to exist to get themselves more consultant work. Instead of just written an ironclad contract and giving the work to a third party they instead give it out to dozens of third parties with a big government organisation in the middle and then wonder why it won't fit together at the end.

    The sad truth is that nobody ever asks IT guys who to complete IT projects. Can you imagine if nobody asked doctors how to cure sick people? Or asked the military how to win a war? Sigh, now I'm pressed. I need a drink.

    You might want to rethink your examples. "Medical error" is one of the leading causes of death (far more than breast cancer or road accidents -- in the US equivalent to a major plane crash every second day); meanwhile the military's last two wars haven't been pinnacles of success either.

    People "expect" IT projects to be straightforward -- it's just 1s and 0s, right? -- but neglect that when you introduce new IT you are changing effectively changing the work practices of everybody in the organisation. And for the NHS that is a bloomin' big organisation (the world's second largest employer). The expectation of "but surely it's easy, right?" is both the cause of bad IT, and also the cause of its bad reputation -- that somehow it should do better than other fields just because you naively think it is a simpler domain.

  • by Dalambertian (963810) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:14AM (#31555508)

    Sadly, there are a lot of people who are simply incapable of performing any job that requires original or creative thought. Call me an elitist if you will, but you know it's true. There are only so many burgers that need to be flipped, floors that need to be mopped, etc.

    Put someone into a job that's beyond their capacity they'll do it poorly, be miserable while doing it, and make everyone everyone miserable in the process.

    The majority of people who work shit jobs do not them because that is the job they are best suited for. People are much more capable than what the current system allows them to be. I started doing physics not because I thought I was smarter than other kids (I wasn't), and I've come to find that most scientists aren't either. They simply took the classes, did the things they were supposed to, and stayed the course. I say let the boring jobs disappear. We will adapt.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:09AM (#31555676)

    The issue is not the transition from paper to online interactions; in an ideal world, you're entirely correct that the savings are worthwhile and it's not like doing it on a web form directly is much different than visiting a local office to fill in a paper form, that the first thing you then see the clerk do is tap into a computer.

    There are however issues with this plan. First, this government has screwed up IT plan after IT plan, at huge cost with marginal or no functional end product - the current plan to put all NHS patient records online for doctor's to use is massive behind, massively overbudget and still not working properly in the trial areas, and that's just one example. This government able to manage the build of a personalized portal access to every government service in a year? Hah. 10 years, at 10 times overbudget with it barely useable and constant crashes? Yes, maybe.

    The next issue is that there are a significant proportion of the population who cannot get broadband at all (or only a very, very slow broadband), and also a significant number of those that can don't want it. Some 50% of the population can't yet get ADSL2+, and only 75% of the population can get broadband from anyone other than BT. Some 7% of the population can't get broadband at all, and under current plans, probably never will. If they're going to make this site the *only* way to access these services by shutting down local offices, as planned, they're going to basically require everyone to own a computer and have a broadband connection. In addition to those in rural areas, you can add poor people and many of the elderly to the list of the disenfranchised (given the rate libraries are closing, that won't be an option for the poor in 10 years)

    Finally - the government is trying to rush through the Digital Economy Bill, which amongst other things, introduces a '3 strikes' law that will result in people's internet connections being crippled merely by being accused of copyright infringement by the content industry. Although people will not be cut off in this version of the bill, it also contains scope to introduce 'additional technical measures' at will, which would include cutting off people's internet connection if the current measures don't result in the goal of a 70% cut in piracy in the next couple of years, so pretty much a certainty. It also means that public access wifi in cafes etc will be shutdown, along with pretty much all cybershops, as it will make them liable for any copyright infringement their customers commit. So there goes another method that people without computers had of accessing this super site.

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @03:48AM (#31555962) Homepage

    A casual acquaintance from high school has been working for the last 25 years cleaning up roadkill for the county, and he's as happy as a pig in slop doing what most people here would consider a shit job. He'd consider any job that involved more math than tallying up how many critters he scraped off the pavement to be the "shit job".

    That sounds like a great job. You get a van, you get a brush, you get a shovel and you get some plastic bags. Then you get some of your favourite CDs and a flask of coffee and go sweep up some roadkill. Come 5pm, you aim the pointy end home and you're not mentally exhausted from figuring out how to move the title half a pixel left on the online TPS reports - so you're nice and fresh for implementing your own projects that you've had time to think about all day.

    That sounds absolutely bloody brilliant.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:39AM (#31556140) Homepage

    Technically you never steal a person's indentity, you use other peoples information to fraudulently pay for products and services> Those people that you have duped, then fraudulently attempt to recover that money from an innocent third party. That third party is fully entitled to seek criminal charges against the company that sought to charge them for services and products that they did not provide to them.

    At the moment credit card companies are playing, well to be blunt, fuck the end user games by claiming identity theft, that's a big lie, it is the legal responsibility of the person who accepts credentials provided are valid and they should be liable for the full costs of targeted innocent third parties with fraudulently charges. However this puts the whole credit card system under threat, technically proprietors who accept false credentials should be charged until they can provide evidence that leads to the arrest of the guilty party, really who would want to take that risk, so the credit card companies play marketing games and shift the focus to innocent third parties who must now prove their innocence.

  • Re:Surveillance. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @11:16AM (#31558062)

    In the UK if you dispute items on your credit card bill they are cancelled and reversed against the retailer. My credit card was used fraudulently (for a second time) the other week and the card issuer simply went through the list of recent transactions with me and without question cancelled every item I said was not mine. It certainly does not put the credit card system under any threat, actually it's about the only good reason for having them at all.

    I agree with the general principle of your argument at least some of the time, in that often the person who's identity is being "stolen" is often not their fault at all. I dispute heavily however the concept that retailers "fraudulently attempt to recover that money from an innocent third party" or that "technically proprietors who accept false credentials should be charged until they can provide evidence that leads to the arrest of the guilty party". This is not the "technical" position at all, retailers are not committing fraud unless they are aware the details are false. They do of course have a duty of care (and usually a contractual requirement) to take reasonable measures to ensure the transaction is genuine, but these alone are not enough to stop fraud and it is ridiculous to suggest they are committing a crime if events were wholly out-with their control.

    The problem with "identify theft" is the inability to determine who is ultimately responsible for it. Consider just a few of the possibilities:
    - I made some transactions then fraudulently claimed those transactions were false (my fault)
    - my good nature led to my assisting Nigerian royalty escape persecution; (my fault)
    - malware on my PC (could be seen as my fault, but also shouldn't my bank be designing systems to counter such a common issue?)
    - a hacker steals my details from a retailer I used months ago (that retailer's fault, not the fault of the retailer who later gets hit with the fraudulent transaction)
    - a retailer has inadequate systems (the retailer's fault)
    - some government employee leaves an unencrypted disk with my personal details on the train, allowing a fraudster to open an account in my name (partly the government's fault, partly the account provider should have controls to defend against this e.g. always sending a confirmation letter to my address, which they have confirmed as genuine and current by other means e.g. electoral roll);
    - the processing system used by the retailer is ran by a contractor [as is almost always the case] and their equipment has a flaw which was exploited by hackers to obtain my details (fault mostly of the contractor, though the retailer also has a duty to audit those systems)

    It goes on and on. The worst bit is most of the time nobody has any idea which if any of the above is what actually happened. There is no silver bullet allowing the cost of the fraud to be passed onto the person responsible for it.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.

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