A BIG thank you to the Government department which has this week managed to give myself and many millions of other parents something extra to worry about.
I am, of course, referring to the loss of two discs containing the names, addresses, dates of birth and bank details of those of us claiming child benefit.
The entire database was sent by courier from Newcastle’s Revenue and Customs to the Audit Office in London in October – but never arrived.
At first, a junior official was blamed for the blunder.
Then the Tories claimed a senior figure had, in fact, authorised the release of information.
And only now does news of this huge security breach reach us mere mortals, despite coming to light weeks ago.
It’s OK though, we’re told, the information isn’t (yet) in the wrong hands. Well that’s all right then.
But we should all keep a close check on our bank statements for signs of fraud, just in case. Reassured? Not really.
It all strikes me as ironic. For so many years now we have been smacked with the Data Protection Act every which way we turn.
There are so many things we can no longer do because of this sacred legislation that I could write a list longer than my arm.
But where’s the protection in all your personal data being held in one place, bundled into the post by some odd-jobber, and then all we get is a shoulder-shrugging “whoops” when it all goes wrong?
In this age of computer hackers, identity thieves and scams so sophisticated that they beggar belief, shouldn’t our information be stored a little more carefully and be transported using more secure means than Courier Jim?
This is the technical age, after all.
But for now I – like millions of others – will have to keep a very close eye on my bank account, amid the fog of setting hacker-proof passwords, shredding my bills to prevent identity fraud and worrying about a likely terrorist attack. What next?