It transpires that HM Revenue and Customs has "lost" the details of 25 million child benefit recipients in the post. The records included the names and addresses of parents and their children, dates of birth, child benefit and national insurance numbers, and – in seven million cases – bank and building society records. The data was contained on two discs, which were sent to the National Audit Office by unrecorded delivery. No one knows where they ended up.
To his credit Paul Gray, the chairman of HMRC, has already resigned. But this incident should raise much wider questions about the extent to which we are prepared to trust government with our personal information. Surely this sort of thing provides the single greatest argument against ID cards and the central ID database the scheme would entail?
Factor in civil liberties concerns and spiralling costs, and the case against ID cards looks pretty conclusive. Of course, the government tells us we can trust them, that they have our best interests at heart, and that ID cards will make the world a safer place. I'm sure they believe it. But does anyone believe them?