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UK Government Staff Caught Snooping On Citizen Data 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-have-a-look dept.
An anonymous reader writes "More than 1,000 UK government staff have been caught snooping on citizen data — including criminal records, social security, and medical records. From the article: 'The U.K. government is haemorrhaging data — private and confidential citizen data — from medical records to social security details, and even criminal records, according to figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Just shy of 1,000 civil servants working at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), were disciplined for accessing personal social security records. The Department for Health (DoH), which operates the U.K.’s National Health Service and more importantly all U.K. medical records, saw more than 150 breaches occur over a 13-month period.'"
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UK Government Staff Caught Snooping On Citizen Data

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  • Lack of information (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:01AM (#40038707)
    The problem I have with these figures is that they give no details of the nature of the offences.

    Were these all "I want to find embarrassing data on my ex or a celebrity!"? Were some of them just "staff member legitimately needed to access an account and should've waited for his boss to authorise first".

    How many of them were procedural mistakes and how many were genuine cases of snooping? A high number of the former would paint a very different picture and asks different questions to a higher number of the latter. But then Dispatches is a horribly sensationalist program so I doubt they care.
  • Re:Shocker (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sique (173459) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:45AM (#40038927) Homepage

    It's pretty easy to overcome audits. Open a trivial case against the person you want to snoop on (littering or something), pull the data, and then close the case with "no further investigation". So everything looks legitimate, and the audit doesn't ring any alarms.

  • by Azarman (1730212) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:49AM (#40038939)
    Sadly this will never get the attension it needs, the goverment will keep pushing for a single centrizied database either for the children for under the need to stop terrorisum, even with their track record of data fail. But we are just numbers right so who cares

    WIkilink to list of UK data loses we know about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UK_government_data_losses [wikipedia.org]
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7103566.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    We know the goverment can track cars in real time, intercept sms and phone calls in real time, and after the centerized commications they will be able to cross ref that with your internet habbits. All in one super database to stop terrorisum.

    I wrote to my MP who is a tory, I had a bit of a rant about the Goverment U-turning on this retraining data as it is one of the reasons i personally voted for them. The guy replied but it was like reading BBC news, a sales pitch that was all fluff and no content. It was all about stopping terrorisum it was just pure propaganda to push an ageneder that I personally did not think this MP was even aware of, it just seemed he was given a press release, told this is what he is going to be doing and refusing to look at anything else. The funny thing was I also wrote to my councilers and they also sent him letters along the same lines as mine all to be met with the same reply. Everyone is against this, and MPs are not even listening to their own people to pushing their own agenders.

    L
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:32AM (#40039123) Journal

    The Stasi, like the Gestapo, relied on informers. They both worked in a situation where everyone was doing something illegal and an accusation was about all the evidence that was required. If they wanted to intimidate or eliminate someone, they just needed to pressure a neighbour or acquaintance into informing on them. This meant that they were intrinsically limited. Both were relatively small organisations and it would take several weeks of several agents' time to get one person. Their power came from the fear that they generated: everyone knew someone who knew someone who had been arrested on trumped-up charges and never seen again. It was unlikely to happen to you, but it could.

    The problem with this kind of database and monitoring is that it means that any Stasi-like organisation can be run efficiently. Want to eliminate everyone in a certain category of political undesirables? There's an app for that...

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