back to article Santa putting children's information at risk, warn experts

Santa Claus could be breaking privacy laws in his collection and use of data about British children, experts have warned. Yuletide cheer-bringer Claus could be putting the personal data of millions of children at risk. Data protection laws lay down strict conditions for the use of personal data and there is no evidence that …


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  1. David Adams

    Data Protection act

    Doesn't this just cover information stored electronically?

    Everyone know he uses a magic list which is clearly excluded from the act!!


  2. GrahamT

    This is all moot...

    as Christmas has to be cancelled. Santa has been banned from descending chimneys because of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

    The Naughty vs Nice database is now available on two CDs on ebay.

  3. An ominous cow herd


    Sue the post-office, that's what I say!

  4. Andrew Bolton

    What are you on ...?

    ... and can I have some please?

    I've been nice all year, honest :)

  5. Stuart Elliott

    British kids don't write to Santa Claus or Kris Kringle

    They write to Father Christmas.. Santa Claus is a figment of the Coke-Cola company.

  6. Kane

    But the Data Protection Act.... only covered here in the UK, isn't it? What about overseas? Is Mr Claus adhering to any international laws about Data retention? Does he come under the same scrutiny elsewhere?

    On another note, how is this data stored? Is it held on an encrypted and secure database? How is it accessed? Does he use MyELFQL, or does he simply burn the data tables to a CD so that any old joe blogs can view the data?

    The public should, and must know.

    Think About The Children!

    Mine's the red hoodie with the white trim, thank you!

  7. Pete mcQuail

    Security alert

    But is it correctly encrypted?

  8. Ralph B

    Not the worst offender

    About time too. I hope they next investigate God's biometic ID database. With His indefinite retention policy for covertly collected, all-purvasive monitoring data He's almost as bad as Google.

  9. Keller Drozdick

    Unfair application of laws

    I'm certainly no expert on EU regulations, but it seems to me that data protection should not apply, at least in regard to the submitted wish lists.

    To my knowledge, none of the alledged gift bringers, (e.g. Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Papa Noel, etc.) has ever requested a list of desired gifts. Just because he is sent unsolicited personal information should not then mean he is automaticaly obligated to protect that info. It is an unfair burden, particularly when this gift delivery activity is merely a hobby. (1. method of transport is clearly not the most efficient or cost effective and 2. anyone ever NOT gotten something on their list? I thought so, highly unprofessional)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Elves and laptops

    So, the data on this laptop that a distracted elf left on the subway is worth money? I was just planning on starting a "Naughty" dating service and a "Nice" dating service...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    UK DP legislation does now apply to "filed" paper data. *I* wonder whether he's even bothered registering as a data controller.

    It's not covert observation; there's a popular song about it..

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The whole event is fraught with risk. Children who leave out carrots for Rudolph and mince pies for Santa could be liable in the event that the portly chap, or said beasts, choke or become poorly after eating them. Additionally, leaving out a tot of brandy can encourage driving an open sleigh while under the influence. It is recommended that one parent remains awake all night to deal with any incidents and administer first aid where required. Householders should also ensure their flue is clear from debris with adequate space for a fat bastard in a red coat and a big sack of toys. A roof survey is recommended in order to ensure it can cope with the weight of a herd of reindeer, a sleigh and several million presents. Finally it is recommended that sturdy, insulated boots are used when putting a foot through the television screen after seeing that Only Fools And Bastard Horses is on AGAIN, for fucks sake.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bah humbug

    Nice to see that these legalised thieves, aka lawyers, are making so much surplus cash out of our corrupt legal system that they can afford to pay people a fortune to trawl out nonsensical crap like this instead of doing something useful in/for this country.

    Am sure all those people who've been failed in the courts by these vultures and got nothing because of some chav-friendly loophole that robs them of justice will be overjoyed to see where they've been focusing all of their money and efforts.

    No Mr Cratchitt, you can't have another lump of coal.

  14. Ash
    Paris Hilton

    Will he mail the database or presents on CD's?

    And where does Paris fit into all of this?

    Somebody PLEASE think of the iPhone!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Lapland is gonna get hacked by information thieves

    Forget HMRC; this is serious!

    People have been mailing Santa/Father Christmas/Sinter-Klaus/Saint Nicholas for years. Any breach will expose the childhood fantisies of numerous current day adults.

    Can all his Elves be trusted to:

    a) Enter the data correctly?

    b) Read all the various different languages/dialects in which the messages arrive?

    Are they in breach if they don't support a new medium? (SMS).

    What if he out-sources his Elves to Bangalorean Midgets? Will the Data Transfer be encrypted?

    Will they implement stringent Authentication and Authorization on the Data?

    Imagine the Data Mining capabilities on that Database!

    What if he sells out to Facebook? All those "sophisticated people" being exposed as wanting a "My Little Pony" set as an innocent child - imagine that comming back to haunt you.

    Will you be in for a session of "Water-Boarding" by the CIA if all you wanted was "Peace and Good Will to all Men"?

    What if you didn't write anything to Santa? Will they cross reference you against all those "believers" to label you as an anti-establishment figure from the age of 6 onwards; therefore in need of extra monitoring and a dose of re-education (see above).

    I'm worried and you should be too!

  16. Charles
    Thumb Up

    information was sent out of the eu by the sender.

    We all know that santa's real official address is

    Santa Claus

    North Pole Canada

    H0H 0H0

    So his data is covered under Canadian Law, and I am sure that he keeps it well frozen. Since Canada Post has the contract to help him answer the volume of mail I am sure that they are also under sutable obligations.

  17. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Have we turned into the US?

    We now think that our data protection laws apply to entities based in the Arctic, a territory governed by international treaty only...

    If children are foolish enough to post information out of the country, they should be aware that they will receive no protection under British law once the letters leave our shores.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "If children are foolish enough to post information out of the country, they should be aware that they will receive no protection under British law once the letters leave our shores."

    As repeated government blunders/cockups/bullshite/lies/spin have shown us, there is no protection while the data is within these shores, either - probably less, in fact.

  19. Tim Ireland

    You better watch out...

    He's making a list,

    Misplacing it twice,

    And now you can buy that list at a price

    Santa Claus is coming to town!

  20. Tawakalna


    *Everyone* knows that Father Christmas lives at the North Pole and Finland simultaneously during the Christmas season, but spends the rest of the year in a terrace in Bradford or on holiday in the South of France.

  21. Santa's little helper

    Santa has published PGP keys for years


    Hash: SHA1

    Unlike HMRC, DWP, DVLA, NHS amd other incompetent UK Government data

    privacy and security abusers, Santa Claus has, for several years now,

    published various PGP public encryption and signing keys, to help

    protect the correspondence and personal details of the good children

    and adults who write to him, from around the world.


    Type bits /keyID Date User ID

    pub 1024D/DDE32849 2006/12/26 Smta Claus <>

    pub 1024D/5DBA63D9 2001/03/07 Claus Santa <>

    pub 1024D/D3C52058 2000/09/11 Santa Claus <>

    pub 1024D/F9587BCC 1999/05/18 Santa Claus <>

    pub 1024D/E5AAB002 1998/01/27 Santa Claus <>

    pub 512R/076E38BD 1994/09/15 Santa Claus <>


    Version: PGP




    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

    N.B. remove the extra CR/LF in the PGP signature header and footer

    introduced by this form to get it to verify.

  22. eurobloke

    Where is Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Joulupukki? It depends

    If you are Danish or American, Santa lives on the North Pole, which is Greenlandic/Danish terriaryIf you are Danish or American. Santa lives on the North Pole, which is Danish (Greenlandic) territory.

    If you are Canadian, Santa also lives on the North Pole (Canada), which is Canadian (Northwest Territories) territory. Although strangely, his post office is in Montreal QC

    If you are British or Finnish, Father Christmas/Joulupukki lives in Rovaniemi, Finland (Lapland), which is Finnish territory.

    If you are Dutch or Belgian, Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas is from the Basque Country in Spain, arriving by steam ship.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Santa sells private data to the highest bidder

    Finland claim Santa as their own, living in Finnish Lapland. So EU privacy laws *should* apply, but Finland isn't too hot on privacy laws. Forget HMRC losing private data, their Finnish counterparts illegally sells it to the highest bidder every year.

    Once a year, the gov tax dept sells "private" info to the press about the entire population (who earn over a certain low limit): name, city, income tax paid, and income. This is then published in a big 8 euro volume. Oh, and you can get per-person data via premium SMS. Google "verosirkus" for more. It's a shame there's no Finnish El Reg to throw up a stink against this, but it'd still make a good story here, eh?

  24. Gordon Fecyk
    Thumb Up

    Not unlike Ironport's anti-spam database! in, there's no way to tell if you're on the "naughty list" until it's far too late.

  25. Morely Dotes

    Your data is obsolete.

    Santa Claus has lived on Mars ever since he conquered the Martians. Under UN auspices, no nation may claim the territory of Mars, as it is extra-Terrestrial, ergo Santa is not subject to the laws of any single nation of the Planet Earth.

    Furthermore, I have it on good authority that this year, all lawyers are getting lumps of imitation coal (small pieces of granite, painted black with lead-based paint, and the work is outsourced to China as the Elves refused to provide anything whatsoever to lawyers, except used bog rolls, which Santa didn't want to carry about with him).

  26. Stan

    monopolies commision

    Someone call 'em quick, the uk gov. is trying to heist the lost data market.

    @GrahamT, Christmas is already gone, it was officially banned around 10 years ago for racial/ethical discrimination. It was replaced with something like 'winterfest', not sure if it got officially allowed again or not.

    @tim. LOL, I'm goin' carol singing with that and a 6 pack.


  27. Ross Fraser

    Naughty/nice data safe with Canada Post

    All letters posted to Santa Clause (or Father Christmas or Kris Kringle) addressed to the North Pole, Canada (Canadian postal code H0H0H0) are answered by volunteers at Canada Post. As Canada Post is a federal agency that complies with Canadian federal privacy law, and as Canada is compliant with the EU's data protection provisions, the data should be safe. Moreover, Canada Post does not have a record of losing CD's containing drivers licence data mailed from Swansea...

    As Canada claims arctic soverignty, complaints may be made to Jennifer Stoddard, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, at

    Have a Merry Christmas!

    Ross Fraser

  28. Kevin

    @Ross Fraser

    Have you got a passport recently?

  29. Charles
    Thumb Up

    Forgot the URL for Santa's Mailbox.

  30. Slaine

    moot point number 25 million

    given that there is no longer anything private or secure about information held on British subjects by any department of the British government or any of it's feckless minion departments...

    ...can anyone send me a copy of the naughty list ;)

  31. Tim Ireland

    Thanks, Stan

    "LOL, I'm goin' carol singing with that and a 6 pack"

    If El Reg will indulge me, the perfect opportunity to do so will be on the 20th (the full version is already on or song sheet):

    You may want to ditch the six-pack, though. We're planning pints for afters.

  32. Mark Manderson

    Civil Santa

    What do outlaw know...dont they realise Father Christmas is a civil servant thus completely oblivious and exempt from the DPA.

    jeesh! :o)

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