Update: it turns out the answer to my question (‘why does the National Audit Office need my National Insurance number?’ below) is ‘they don’t’.
I feel like a bit of a jerk climbing onto the lost Child Benefit data bandwagon but I do want to ask a little question: one I haven’t seen answered anywhere else yet.
Why, I wonder, does the National Audit Office need my National Insurance number? I think this is more important than the loss of the data itself, which can be put down to human error (and is actually quite funny). The fact that anyone felt it appropriate (or necessary) to send my NI number (plus all that other personal data) to a government department that doesn’t actually need it is telling. It’s slapdash really. And it’s another nail in the coffin of the ID card, of course.
While we’re at it, allow me to remind you that the whole ID card edifice is based on the same kind of casual attitude to personal data. A perfectly serviceable ID card scheme – one that allows anyone to prove they are who they’re going around saying they are – could be built on a database containing no personal data at all (ask me how).
The fact that this hasn’t occurred to anyone in Government is dispiriting. The relevant civil servants and consultants haven’t seen fit to present such a ‘zero data’ ID scheme to Ministers because there’ll all working on the same ‘we might as well have it’ attitude to our data. Governments everywhere (name an exception) seem to instinctively desire inappropriate access to information about their citizens. And it’s this attitude, of course, that produced the latest cock-up.