(a press release from the Campaign for Public Ownership)
The Mail on Suinday reports:
An inquiry has been launched after a memory stick with user names and passwords for a key government computer system was found in a pub car park.
A spokeswoman said the matter was being taken “extremely seriously” and the Gateway website had been shut down.
She said the “integrity” of the website – which provides services including tax returns – had “not been compromised”.
The memory stick was lost by Daniel Harrington, 29, an IT analyst at computer management firm Atos Origin.
The multinational company, which boasts an annual turnover of £4billion, won the five-year £46.7million contract to manage the Government Gateway in 2006.
The same company has been selected to supply IT systems for the London 2012 Olympic Games
Back in August, data including the names, addresses and dates of birth of around 33,000 offenders in England and Wales with six or more recordable convictions in the past 12 months on the Police National Computer were lost by the private company PA Consulting, contractors for the Home Office. Also lost were the names and dates of birth of 10,000 prolific and other priority offenders, and the names, dates of birth and, in some cases, the expected prison release dates of all 84,000 prisoners held in England and Wales.
In December it was announced that US firm Pearson Driving Assessments, a contractor to the Driving Standards Agency, had lost the details of three million candidates for the driving theory test. Pearson reported that a hard drive was missing from a “secure facility” in Iowa.
And of course earlier this summer we had the news that thousands of British schoolchildren would have to wait until the autumn for key test results after the US-owned company brought in to administer the tests ‘ETS Europe’ failed to deliver on time.
It’s time for this nonsense to stop.
After this latest fiasco is there anyone still willing to argue that the increased involvement of the private sector in the business of government has led to greater efficiency?
It is logical to assume that the more outside agencies that handle government data, the greater the likelihood of it getting lost. But logic, it seems, goes out of the window where Britain’s political elite and their blind attachment to neo-liberal dogma is concerned.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, before the days of privatisation and sub-contracting government work to private companies, such loss of data never occurred.
The Campaign for Public Ownership calls on the government to end the sub-contracting of government work to private companies and to keep all such work ‘in-house’.
Not only would this reduce the chance of data going missing, it would also save the taxpayer a small fortune in paying for inefficient private companies.