back to article DVLA coughs to data slip

Today's government data loss comes courtesy of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Swansea. The agency sent out 1, 215 surveys which included names, addresses, birth dates, license numbers, and motoring offences. Only trouble is that at least 100 went to the wrong addresses. The envelopes were addressed to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Data Loss

    I think El Reg should create a new icon/acronym along the lines of WSA or RotM whenever a .gov department loses more data.

    We are f*cked anyway with this lot running our data security so we may as well have some fun with it.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Hardly surprising to me, they managed to send both mine and my fiancé's driving licences to the wrong address when we moved house. Despite having all our correct information which we confirmed over the phone whilst trying to discover what happened. We assumed the couldn't have cocked up too badly and it was probably only a few doors or streets away so we asked for the address where they HAD sent them. They refused point blank, we were basically told not to worry about it as our photographic ID with lots of personal information on it could not be used in fraud as it would have the wrong issue number on it. O I felt so secure after that.

    Our data is valuable thats why *everyone* wants it, yet whenever it is lost we are told not to worry as it's worthless.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    At least they do not profit from the mistake

    The Difference between the DVLA and HMRC

    DVLA help line = 0800

    HMRC = 0845 Thus making profit from cock up

    I wonder how much HMRC is making from the help line?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Elementary common sense

    "The DVLA blamed human error rather than lackadaisical attitudes to data security "

    If you rely on people to put letters in envelopes, you almost certainly WILL get some of them in the wrong envelopes.

    Elementary common sense says you sidestep the problem by printing the address and information on only ONE piece of paper, and then use a common or garden window envelope to post it.

    I'd say that failure to use elementary common sense *WAS* effectively a "lackadaisical attitude".

  5. Anthony


    I take it that it's now cool to confess?

    After confession they expect forgiveness?

    I wonder how many, in the run up to Christmas (a time for forgiving and forgetting iir Cliff Richard correctly) will cough to data mismanagement / loss.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Windowed envelope

    Have they not heard of windowed envelopes?

    If you are sending exactly the same thing to people then sure, stick a label on the envelope. If you are sending out personalised letters, then use and windowed envelope, then you can't get them mixed up!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the same DVLA

    which puts a hold on changing any details of a car on their database if they have an problem (such as their inability to send out tax demands with correct amount) - including the change of address.

    Net result because of their incompetence they fail to send stuff to right address!

  8. damon Reynolds

    You don't make money from 0845 numbers

    A company pays for the privilege of having 0800 numbers (free to the caller) and 0845 numbers (calls charged at local rate). Both the DVLC and HMRC will be forking out, therefore, not making money.

    It's revenue sharing 0870 numbers and of course Ant & Decs favourite: 09 premium rate that get the cash rolling in.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how much HMRC is making from the help line?

    Probably the £50,000 they say it would have cost to remove the unnecessary data from the files to the Audit Commission (it costs that much to write a simple SELECT query?)

  10. Adrian Jones

    @damon Reynolds

    Wow, that turns the old Freeserve business model on its head, doesn't it.

  11. Mat

    RE: I wonder how much HMRC is making from the help line?

    Well.... They need to cover the cost of sending out millions of letters apologising for the balls-up!

  12. Dann

    @damon Raynolds

    wow I wonder how we have been making money from our 0845 dial up internet!

    It is true in some cases that you have to buy an 0845 but you dont (or shouldn't) pay for the calls you recieve.

    And you can in certain circumstances even make money off them. (as we do for our dial up service)

  13. Vic

    @damon Reynolds: 0845 - there is money to be made...

    0845 don't cost as much as 0870 numbers, but there is "revenue sharing" on those lines as well. So someone makes money out of it - albeit a fairly small amount.

    This is why one of my VoIP providers was happy to give me an 0845 number, but not a geographical number...

  14. alastair

    I suppose

    I suppose that if they are giving it away then at least they are less likely to be able to sell it!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Human Error?!?!?

    I never knew that the Humans that work for our noble/trustworthy government ever made errors!

    What was that? You say that when you get Biometrics and ID Cards the Humans will never make any mistakes again! Oh, alright then...

    I choose Paris Hilton cos even she wouldn't sanction a cock-up like the government wants.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hmm, the DVLA as in....

    The same DVLA that:

    1. Tried to claim that they were legally entitled to & got slapped on the wrist by WIPO?

    2. Have or had a policy of tranferring callers to an automated message when they used keywords such as "tax" despite the caller having listened to the message several times already & being quite sure that the information provided was of no use.

    3. Issued forms telling the owners of vehicles that they could renew their tax online by using the special number in the yellow box....except that they didn't print anything in the yellow boxes. In fact the number was no-where to be seen so back to the post office everyone went.

    4. That would happily give you all the details of the owner of a vehicle. Cost £2 if you want it immediately, nothing if you are happy to wait up to 2 weeks.

    5. Happily re-registered cars to new names & addresses if anyone asked without waiting for confirmation from the listed keeper. Result:

    - Find person going on holiday for 2 weeks.

    - Tell DVLA the car is now yours.

    - Wait for new documents to arrive.

    - Inform police you are retrieving your goods from the previous owners garage. Produce DVLA paperwork to prove ownership.

    - Profit!

    Good old British-government run monopolies eh?!!

    On a side note, given the police can drive around & have their cars tell them if a driver is untaxed/uninsured/mot'd etc, why do we have to produce all these documents when we re-tax?

    Well I asked someone in the Post Office.

    It is because the individual post offices don't want to pay for broadband apparently...!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Are they contacting the people whose details were revealed?

    Your article says that DVLA is apologising to the recipients of the survey - and the envelopes were addressed correctly.

    It seems to me that the people who might be damaged were the ones whose full details (including driving offenses) had been sent to someone else !

    Was this a question of people with driving offenses being invited to participate in a survey? i.e. if *you* received a letter with someone else's details, you can be sure that *your* details have been sent to someone else with driving offenses (or whatever the selection criteria were), or were the letters inside the envelopes generated randomly - so anyone's details might have been given away?

    I suppose it is safe to assume that there is no record of which letter went into which envelope? ;-<

    I suppose the real question is how - and whether - the DVLA is planning to tag the leaked records to detect misuse?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Things can only get... worse.

    Oh my God, they're at it again !!

    The Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland has lost the personal details of 6,000 people.

    The data was on two discs and went missing after being sent to the agency's headquarters in Swansea.

    The DVA said the data was being provided in response to a safety recall by a number of manufacturers.

    The head of the agency said the information was not encrypted. It included details of 7,685 vehicles and more than 6,000 vehicle keepers.

    Deja-Vu, or just a harmless glitch in the Matrix... ?

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