I'm used to the fact that politicians don't understand technology, but it frightens me that, in the midst of one crisis, they can still find the time to misuse it to promote another unrelated political agenda.
Yes, but is anyone actually surprised...?
Meanwhile, Burning Our Money assesses how much it might cost us.
Let's just think the unthinkable. Let's suppose these data discs have fallen into criminal hands. What will it cost us?
The going rate for bank account details on the international crime market is reportedly around £200 each. We don't know how many of these lost 25m records include bank accounts, but given what we do know, 5-10m seems a reasonable guess. Which means the black market value of these two discs is an extraordinary £1bn - £2bn.
But if their black market value is £1-2bn, you have to believe the likely loss from bank accounts is a multiple of that. We have no idea what multiple, but five-times is as good a guess as any other. Which means a bill of £5-10bn. A ten-times multiple means £10-20bn.
And who do you think will pay? It won't be the banks, despite the impression Bottler and Darling have sought to give. It will be us taxpayers.
And the cost doesn't end there. Everyone will need a new bank account (if you've been claiming Child Benefit in the last five years and haven't switched yet, do it tomorrow). Everyone may need a new National Insurance number. And for the next 18 years children hitting 18 will need to check their credit records to make sure someone isn't applying for credit in their name.
And we taxpayers will have to make good all the losses.
The only thing that amazes me about this whole fiasco is that—should criminals have, in fact, got their hands on these disks—the politicos will have handed the data details of 25,000,000 citizens to the only people in the country more unpleasant and untrustworthy than the politicians themselves.