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Another day, another privacy fiasco from within the realm of our civil service.
If it's not ACC sending people's private details to unrelated parties then it's revelations that someone in IRD has been selling private details to debt collectors.
If it's not members of the police making inappropriate use of their national database then it's WINZ's public kiosks providing unfettered access to the departments most sensitive data.
Yes, that's the way it appears.
According to this blog, the public access terminals at WINZ were left wide-open last week, allowing anyone who wanted, to gain direct access to all sorts of information that they really ought not to.
In response to these revelations, the Ministry of Social Development have turned off the public-access computers until they've sorted the problem.
It is not known however, how much of this stuff could have been perused or downloaded by savvy members of the public who stumbled on this "door wide open" security gaffe.
How on earth could someone allow this to happen?
And, just as important -- what will happen next?
Well we all know what will happen next, because we've seen it so very many times before.
MSD will investigate the problem.
They will come out with a statement which apologises (but does not compensate) those whose data may have been exposed.
Their official statement will include oft-abused phrases such as "lessons have been learned", "new processes will be put in place" and "we are working hard to ensure this will not happen again".
These statements come directly from the "Civil Servant's guide to handling stuff-ups manual" and we've seen them trotted out so often recently that it makes a mockery of the whole issue of privacy within the public sector.
What I want to know is:
Who was (ir)responsible?
What is the sanction they will be receiving?
What are the safeguards that will be implemented to avoid a recurrence?
Nothing less than answers to these questions is going to be satisfactory.
But don't hold your breath. Just as in the numerous ACC stuff-ups and the whole issue surrounding the GCSB and Dotcom, we'll get the usual "whitewash" report full of faux-apologies and promises to "try harder" next time.
Well I'm sorry but in an era when government increasingly forces citizens to give up their right to privacy, the onus to protect the information they collect becomes enormous and failure to provide such protection must invoke huge levels of sanction against those who would be so careless.
You can't drive a car until you're able to prove you are capable of doing so.
You can't own a firearm until you're able to prove you are suitably qualified to do so.
So surely, the government can not demand that we sacrifice more of our privacy until *they* prove to us that they can be trusted to protect the information they collect.
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