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18 December, 2007

Why was it there anyway?

I have to admit to mixed feelings about the latest huge loss of personal data by a company operating under contract to the UK Government, as each breach reduces the chance of ID cards or a National Identity Register being successfully forced through the legislative procedure.

The particularly alarming aspect of this loss was that it was from a facility in Iowa.
What was private data on British citizens doing in a foreign country without the individuals' knowledge and express consent? Any foreign country, though without wishing to seem anti-American, I'm especially uncomfortable that it was the USA, whose government has a history of contriving reasons to appropriate personal data for 'security' purposes and permitting foreign nationals no legal recourse if it's misused* .
I can understand and even support a nation's right of access to data held within its sovereign boundaries (under specific and independently-regulated circumstances) – so don't put British data within the USA's jurisdiction.

I was also amused to notice that civil servants have been promoting my own argument for me:

Whitehall officials argued that most of the data is available in telephone directories.
Precisely. And I have the right, which I definitely exercise, to opt-out of telephone directories.

*: I'm not saying the US Government, nor the UK's would misuse personal data, either deliberately or ineptly, but they could. I prefer not to take the risk, and after all, the data are the property of the individuals, not the state.

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