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Blair's ID card plan undermined by security breaches

JAMES KIRKUP / Scotsman | August 26 2006

TONY Blair's plan for a national identity card has been dealt a fresh blow by the revelation that several government officials have been sacked for breaching security around the databases on which the scheme will be based.

Unauthorised users have got around information technology defences at the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service on at least four occasions in recent years.

The IPS holds personal data about every British passport holder, including date of birth, mother's maiden name and other information that could be used by criminals.

It is understood that three IPS officials were dismissed after the database security breaches were uncovered and Home Office managers moved to contain the scandal.

MPs and technology experts have repeatedly expressed fears that the new National Identity Register, which will ultimately store the most sensitive details of more than 40 million people, will be a honeypot for hackers and identity thieves. Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the N02ID campaign, said the breaches showed the "terrifying" vulnerability of the scheme.

A Home Office spokeswoman last night confirmed the database security breaches at the IPS, and that three staff involved had been sacked as a consequence.

She insisted that none of the security breaches involved "hacking" by outside criminals, and said that a "whole range of protocols and procedures" are in place to protect Home Office databases from unauthorised staff use.

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