L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

21 January 2008 Blog Home : January 2008 : Permalink

Even Guardianistas Think ID Cards Are Bad

Mrs (for how much longer?) Andrew Marr, aka Grauniad hackette Jackie Ashley,* proves that even the most loyal ZANU Labour Brown-noser have their limits. As TimW points out the Hon Jackie thinks that ID cards will be a really bad idea. Mrs Marr explains that when you have a government as incapable of data security as thr UK one (although it has to be stated that the UK government isn't noticeably worse than the competitions here), then having a database with all our personal details on it is bound to be a Bad Thing™ because we know that at some point some or all of the records will end up on a laptop that is stolen or a CD that gets lost in the post. Or as she writes:

Here's an easy question. What do the following have in common - people on housing benefit, people getting child benefit, people wanting to be RAF pilots or Royal Marines, people in hospital and people learning to drive? The answer is that they have all had their personal details lost through government incompetence. And here's another question. With the national database for ID cards looming, just how much do you trust the government to keep your identity details safe?

The article is good (and yes like Tim I am gobsmacked that I'm actually writing such a thing) but of more interest to me in some respects are the comments where it seems pretty clear that the Hon Jackie is far from the only Guardianista to feel uncomfortable at the idea of giving all our details to the govt. Amusingly I note that one commenter (Bizder - 9:02am) asks why there is sucha hooha because there is no evidence of actual harm yes. Bizder clearly doesn't read the Wapping Liar or the Sun where a certain J Clarkson issued a similar challenge and discovered that someone made him give £500 to charity.

The case of Mr Clarkson illustrates the modus operandi I would follow if I were a fraudster in possession of lots of bank details. Basically what you do is set up a dummy charity/company with a bank account. Then you use these stolen details to initiate a lot of direct debit mandates to banks who then transfer money to your account. You then, via the magic of electronic banking and the like transfer the money to some suitably shady off-shore haven. One question is whether you go for the small but regular fleecing or the big one-off. In the former you set up a direct debit of £1.37 per month for thousands of people and expect that no one will notice the charge. If the company name is chosen correctly even if people do notice it they may decide it is a bank charge or something and not complain.  Alternatively you set up a few hundred larger transfers of £500 or so in the expectation that this is only going to work once.

*Is it just me or is it just a bit odd that a socialist newspaper like the Grauniad has not one but two upper class toffs as lady columnists? That is to say The Hon Jackie and Polly Pot. And for that matter that they are both blonde non-bombshells
Picture of Polly Toynbee Jackie Ashley