What a massive privacy breach, of really quite gargantuan proportions, means in practical terms is actually fear.
Fear of people finding out your private stuff. Fear of people who Don't Need to Know finding out your private stuff. Fear of people who You Don't Want To Know finding out your private stuff. Fear of people who are Dangerous to You and Your Loved Ones finding out your private stuff.
Private stuff like your new name, your current address, your beneficiary or CYFS arrangements. Private stuff which could make it easy to find you.
Emma explains it succintly, clearly, and powerfully, on PAS today:
[quote from someone else, upthread] Mind you, you know exactly who could (would) do what Keith did? Bored, inquisitive, mildly anti-social young men...
[Emma's comment].... who have children hidden from them in CYFS care, and have just been given enough information to find them.
I read this column last night, and had to go to bed and have a wee cry. And it wasn't just because my daughter's had dealings with Youth Specialty Service that involved funded counselling and drugs.
I was one of those kids. For two years in the 70s, my family was in hiding from my father. He had access rights: on one of those visits he managed to trick me into telling him where we were living (I was six, okay), and we had to move. I had to change schools. The very information Keith has detailed here, which would have been on Social Welfare's files about us, would have been sufficient for my dad to at least find my school and wait for me. He could have used me to find my home, and my mother. She could have died.
If we were in that situation now, all he'd need is some unsupervised time on a kiosk, and the technical knowledge to open a file in Word.The political management of this issue has become the main topic of conversation now. When did MSD know they had a problem? A year ago; several months back; last week; on Sunday night; or, like the PM, today? If they found out earlier than yesterday why didn't they act sooner?
But please let us not forget just why this breach matters so much; because MSD were not reliable and secure stewards of the information they hold, and have thus made many of the most vulnerable in our society, those MSD is supposed to assist confidentially and with respect, even more at risk. And even more afraid.