back to article 1m French out of work thanks to dodgy data - UK next?

As the UK prepares to put in place its shiny new vetting database later this year, analysis of a similar project in France reveals a devastating degree of inaccuracy, leading to real hardship for a very large number of people. A report (pdf) issued last week by CNIL, the French Data Protection Agency, reveals that as many as a …


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  1. Jacqui

    victim == suspect

    If you get burgled multiple times, they can 'accidently' stick you down as the burglar and you lose your job and then your house - so eliminating the "problem".

    As this is inline with police targets to reduce *visible* crime, I cannot see plods getting more than a verbal spanking if caught and a promotion if it works.

  2. Simon Painter

    if the french can't do it

    If the technocratic state of France can't get it right then the lumbering idiocy of "Great" Britain won't be able to manage it. We can't *do* IT as so many shitty projects have proved.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Are you listening Jacqui???

    Anyone sent Whacky Jacqui this article I wonder? It's the perfect explanation of why the NIR and by association, the ID card, is a very, very bad idea. I have no doubt that the French databases are smaller and less complex, storing less items of information and operated by more securely vetted staff than anything we would end up having and they believe that 1million people have been, at the very least, inconvinienced, by failing to get a job. I wonder how many are unemployed, because of incorrect data. Transfer this to the UK, 60 million people on the database with ID checks for just about everything that NuLab can think of (at least, where they can generate revenue), how many people will be 'inconvenienced' every single day and how many of those will lose their liveliehoods or reputation, because of someone's incompetence.

    Let's hope that our Gallic comrades show some of their usual spirit and demonstrate the civil disobedience we're too afraid of in the UK and get their govt. to scrap these databases forthwith.

  4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Lessons will be learned, blah blah...

    If a private citizen maintained such a database and offered inaccurate information for cash as a business, they'd end up in *very* hot water. In particular, I *very* much doubt if any court would let them claim that it was all an accident. If your business model consists of pumping out potentially slanderous allegations against people, you need to be *very* careful that the information is correct.

    It will be interesting to see if the French manage to hold their government accountable for what is essentially a taxpayer financed act of criminal negligence.

    *Then* it will be interesting to see if the UK government can be prevented from doing the same thing. We now have an example of how badly it can go wrong, so if*our* scheme goes wrong the same way, courts should be even less tolerant of hand-wringing "regrets" at the mistakes.

  5. 3x2

    And ...

    HMG still wonder at our resistance to the database state.

    <...> Objectors to EDVIGE were horrified to learn that it would have gathered information on any person having applied for or exercised a "political, union or economical mandate or playing a significant institutional, economical, social or religious part as well as information on any person, starting from the age of 13, considered by the police as a "suspect" potentially capable of disrupting the public order". <...>

    To the UK version you can safely add ... and any rumours, accusations or gossip pertaining to the same

    <...> CNIL identified an error rate of 83 per cent on STIC records <...>

    Which will never happen here because of course all data will be covered by state secrecy laws so nobody will ever find out what is being held let alone examine it for accuracy.

    Papers please Citizen

    Is it me or hes Europe learned nothing from (recent) history - felt badges would be much cheaper and far more accurate.


  6. /dev/me

    The database

    Ooooo it's in the DATABASE, so it must be RIGHT

    Is there no promising young psychologist who wishes to research this fallacy -or perhaps more aptly named- cognitive bias??

    We at work have trouble enough as it is keeping the online internal phone register up to date. Not because of the database itself, but because HR doesn't achieve more than a 95% notification rate when it comes to informing IT of changes.

    Does the gov honestly think it will ever reach 95% accuracy in their databases? What with all the "I forgot to file a mutation", "to busy, not gotten round to, I just work here and didn't know, I'm just a temp", and erroneous filed requests along with all the normal miscommunications, the assumptions in the category "I thought that someone else..." and all the "yeah I thought it wasn't right, but the database said..." that fills the working days of the civil servant?

    If the source isn't 100% reliable, then the database isn't 100% reliable.

    Skull&bones, for all the people who mistakingly where marked as dead, and the bureaucratic hell they had to endure before they could be officially alive again. We remember them dearly ;-)

  7. Britt Johnston

    somebody wins every lottery

    cher M.Mafiosi

    please apply: your chances are good, with so many suitable candidates being filtered out.

  8. Luther Blissett

    Welcome to the hyperreal world

    > UK’s new checking system – which is to add in allegations and accusations, irrespective of the accuracy of either

    Data accuracy implies that its attrbution to an entity can be true or false. That is, the database either represents or misrepresents a real individual. But in the hyperreal world the concept of representation does not exist. There is no original, no substratum that is that ground for a fact. All facts are simulacra. There is no inaccurate data. Everything is to be trusted. Or, to put the same thing a different way, everything is to be distrusted. Everything and everybody.

    Mr Orwell, meet M. Baudrillard. M. Baudrillard, meet Mr Orwell. Welcome, celebrated ghosts that you both now are, to our Brave New Hyperreality.

  9. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Life imitates art

    Where is Franz Kafka when we need him? Oh yes, the database 'says' he is dead.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge


    Are they trying to say they've got the wrong end of the STIC?

  11. kain preacher


    Here on this side of the pond the employer pays for the CRB. If you fail it they have to tell you. The police can not hide or restrict whats on record.

  12. Steen Hive
    Thumb Up


    Spot on. This is totalitarianism defined as far as the effects on individuals are concerned. One's existence completely governed by parameters that are at once arbitrary, random and if necessary, malicious.

    In your hyperreal world, it is truth that there is no concept of. The "truth" will be at once arbitrary, random and if necessary malicious. Totalitarianism personified and an unavoidable consequence of freedom.

  13. Martin Silver badge

    Biometrics to the rescue

    Of course with biometrics there won't be any errors.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it would be more accurate if

    they just make the national database a wiki

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Opposition was swift and brutal...

    ... with thousands of people demonstrating in over 60 cities

    And over here we get what...? And the Government force it through anyway...

  16. Andy Enderby

    Sign here....

    .....that's my receipt for you receipt.....

    Fsck me..... it's not France or Britain it's Gilliams Brazil.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Don´t draw attention

    Be one of many

    be one of the sheep

    Be a WHITE sheep

    THEY know what´s best for ........

    BTW, who knows which company builds them black helicopters ? we coul make a killing...

    Anonymous, 'cause ....

  18. Frankie

    victim == suspect by Jaqui

    Jaqui , your comments are those of an imbecile.

    What the hell do you know about any of this, your comments are wildy innacurate, childish and at best the rantings of a fool.

    What do you know about 'plod' and the way they work, where is your evidence that 'they' can accidentally stick you down as the burglar and lose you your job.........ludicrous statements.

    You very obviously know nothing about crime, visible or other wise, i bet you are the sort of person who (bravely) slags off the working establishment and then (not so bravely) cries for help at the first sign of anything that you cannot deal with.

    Any database system will have flaws, it will take a time for adjustment, it is not infallable, but it is better than having nothing at all (which you would also moan at) but to blame it solely for the incurred problems is ludicrous and shallow.

    I thank you

  19. Alan

    @ 3x2

    You posted: ***<...> CNIL identified an error rate of 83 per cent on STIC records <...>

    Which will never happen here because of course all data will be covered by state secrecy laws so nobody will ever find out what is being held let alone examine it for accuracy.***

    C'mon, get real. Of course it will happen. Some government idiot, or an employee of a company contracted by the government, will leave a copy of the database on a train or in a pub, or one gov department will send a copy to another department through the post on unencrypted disks.

  20. Neoc

    ouch that hurts...

    "A report (pdf) issued last week by CNIL, the French Data Protection Agency".

    I snorted my morning coffee through my nose when I read this... CNIL would be pronounced "say nihl" in French. Which is the same pronunciation as "senile", which means exactly the same in French as in English.

    Truth in advertising?

  21. John Sturdy

    Keep learning Chinese....

    Keep learning Chinese, it'll soon be the language of the (relatively) free... :-(

    When will the west and the east cross over on freedoms? Another decade? Perhaps I'm being naive, but I'm not sure which way!

    Mine's the one with the phrasebook in the pocket....

  22. jonathan rowe

    What about the european convention on human rights?

    Surely this would get struck down on human rights grounds?

    I know the french blindly ignore european laws when it suits them, but perhaps here we have a stronger legal system that would get this struck down?

  23. Frederic DEGAND

    Shorely shome mishtake ?

    "as many as a million people have lost jobs – or didn’t get them in the first place – because of inaccuracies in the police STIC database"

    After reading the CNIL report, I didn't find this information anywhere. What it does say however, is that one million jobs in France (working at an airport, for example) require a background check using the STIC database. Quite a difference, especially as it makes the headline of this article...

    That being said, the database maintenance and consultation problems/abuse remain whole.

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