For those who don’t know, BNP stands for ‘British National Party’, a right-wing party that loves to hate. Whilst their 2007 membership list was placed online , to shame the members, it has seemingly since been taken down. However, when data is released on the web, it is very hard to get it back. Remember AOL’s search data scandel, or the AACS encryption key controversy; you can’t put the cat back in the bag.
A few other thoughts are available on my other (rarely-updated) blog.
Whilst there have been some extremely large scale losses of personal data, such as the 25 million child benefit records last year, personally I haven’t worried too much, often the details are things we are happy to share with people anyway. Today, however, notice of the susceptibility of my data to the criminal elements dropped onto my door mat. A burgarly at the home of a doctor from my local practice included the theft of a laptop with all my medical details…unencrypted!
The loss of most details wouldn’t particularly bother me, medical records, however, are particularly personal. Whilst I don’t particularly want anyone reading my medical records, I am lucky in that my records will consist primarily of comments about my hypercondria, my childhood addiction to verrucas, and the strange rash I had from the age of 11 to 15…not exactly blackmail material.
Others, however, are likely to have things on their record that they may not even want to share with their partner. That the laptop “appears to have been stolen for its re-sale value, rather than for any information stored upon it”, is unlikely to do much to calm their fears.
Reports in the past have said that doctors will shun a national medical database because it will put our records at risk. Our records are already at risk, but maybe a national database would at least ensure that the data was encrypted.
Update: I am 1/11,000th of a BBC story.