Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Listen... Do you want to know a secret?

Well if you promise not to tell then it is a fair bet you are not working for a department of the New Zealand Government right now. In a time when an increasing amount of data is stored about us all by the state and many other organisations, we are finding examples of how this data is not being looked after appropriately.

It is hard to imagine that this can be rocket science. The whole thing is simple really; you collect personal data you store it securely and you release it only to those who have a right to access it. All it takes for that to happen is to hire someone who can (a) read and write and (b) at least finished primary school.

Regular readers will know that I love sticking the boot into the Jianqi Government and to be fair for a nano-second they have not been the only ones on whose watch such blatantly negligent acts of disclosure have occurred. However it is also fair to say that this particular shambolic arrangement of village idiots masquerading as our leadership has presided over more leaks than a long serving public toilet attendant.

Since the little money market twerp with the slightly effeminate speech patterns and the permanent look of a possum caught in the headlights took the reins of office just lets recap what we have seen.

1.      In March 2012 we discovered that ACC (Accident Compensation Catastrophe) had inadvertently divulged all sorts of stuff about 6700 vulnerable sick and injured people including 250 sexual abuse victims to Bronwyn Pullar. In January of this year we learned that since then they have been involved in over 500 further privacy breaches and they are still breaching the privacy of Kiwi citizens at the rate of 1 per day.

2.      On September 11, 2012 we learn that WINZ (What Idiots New Zealand) sent out some great reading matter to one of their clients – only it was about another client. And just to make things even more interesting, when the recipient rang up and told them of their error and offered to bring the material back to them some cretin told them to just destroy it themselves.

3.      On 15 October 2012 we learned that the MSD (Ministry of Social Dysfunction) leave their information kiosks so unprotected that some 12 year-old kid with basic computer knowledge would be able to hack into them and of course someone did, laying bare all the secrets of many thousands more vulnerable people.

4.      On October 28, 2012 we heard that another punter had received from the IRD (Inland Robbery Department) a bunch of unsealed letters containing private tax details. Further investigations revealed that IRD had in the previous 12 months breached the privacy of 6400 Kiwis in 32 separate incidents.

5.      Now the latest breach du jour comes from the EQC (the Earthquake Cock-ups). They like to do things on a big scale, rather like the Christchurch earthquake. No little breaches by this mob, despite them originally claiming a mere 9000 people had been compromised. No; we find these geniuses have actually liberated 83,000 records which is reckoned to be every single one of the ChCh claimants. Well done them!

But I doubt we are finished with these stupid and inexcusable cock-ups yet.

Over the last six months the Government has kept persevering with the doomed NoNo Pay scheme for not paying teachers. Given that many teachers on leave have been paid and many more who have been working have not and another was sent on maternity leave well after she had passed beyond her fertile years, you would have to wonder how many breaches we have not yet heard about in this system.

But lest we think that is the end of the saga, let’s not forget several million of us have just completed a census form. Some will even have (rather foolishly) put their correct earnings information and religious persuasion an various other theoretically uncheckable bits of information into those sheets along with of course their name and current address. Imagine the fun Statistics NZ will have leaking those all over the country?

But, dear readers, there is a sublime irony in all of this. Have any of you ever tried to get a public report out of a government department or even some sensitive information about yourself? If you have you will know you are made to jump through more hoops than an Olympic gymnast and made to wait until you can no longer remember why you requested the information in the first place.

Yet every so often they have a kind of mufti day for information when they scatter it to the four winds like so many prayer lanterns to drift wherever they may and enlighten the lives of persons in places unknown.

It certainly makes the case for living in a cave in the back of beyond seem increasingly attractive.

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