We learn today that a computer was stolen from the constituency office of Hazel Blears (who looks to me like she’s permanently trying to suck the seeds out of a lemon). This in itself wouldn’t be big news as such, except for the fact we’re told that some classified Government papers were on them.
It is unclear at this stage whether or not Hazel Blears had employed any form of disk encryption, or had secured the documents in any meaningfully secure fashion. We’re told that the computer was password protected, by which I assume she’d bothered to set a password to log into, becasue we all know how hard it is to bypass that. There appears to be confusion as to whether this was her own personal machine or a government issued laptop that was stolen.
Within the last 10 months, there have been at least two other major incidents involving the Government losing sensitive information (Child benefit disks, Secret documents on the train – twice) within the last 10 months. It seems to indicate an apparent disregard for the nature of the information being held and a fundamental lack of understanding of the risks involved in its transport and storage. Back in the days of Station X (Breaking the Enigma), everyone understood the significance of the data being handled, and what it would mean if it were lost. It seems now that we have little or no idea of what data we have or how easily such things can go missing.
Do I expect anything to happen? No. We’ve seen it plenty of times before, a high level Civil Servant will get their wrists slapped and some low level Civil Servant will probably get the boot for sending her the documents without following procedure. There’ll be another review, and another new raft of data guardians appointed at great expense, no senior person will be held responsible. There’s speculation that Ms Blears may face action under the Official Secrets Act for failing to secure Government documents. What, if anything will happen on that front is anyone’s guess.
One would hope that the Government should at the very least be able to secure its own paperwork. If it can’t manage that, how can it expect us to have confidence in their assurances that everything else is going well?
Revisited after a re-read, tidied up to make a little more sense… hopefully