back to article UK.gov admits it has not performed legally required data protection checks for COVID-19 tracing system

The UK government has admitted it deployed the COVID-19 Test and Trace programme without a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) required by law, according to privacy campaigners the Open Rights Group (ORG). The ORG said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had confirmed in writing that the impact assessment had …

  1. John Jennings Bronze badge

    There we go again

    'Critical Friend'....

    The term also used at the select committee hearing in May about the looney toons version of the app and its developer division

    Thats not the role of the ICO. Lady Denham is confusing what the ICO is meant to do in a power grab.

    The DOH could have slapped an initial DPIA together. The initial screening parts only takes an afternoon FFS. I believe that they dont want to do it, because they know that they will be repurposing the data for later analytics other than the purpose for which its collected - ie test and trace. If they (DOH) dont define a limit, they could easily sell it or use it for other purposes. They dont have to consider what they propose how people could exercise their rights, and dont need to describe any limitations on access.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There we go again

      The ICO is in a difficult position here. It can exact a monetary penalty but how do you do that when the offender is a public body?

      For a private offender a fine results in a loss of profits. A public body only has money in the form of a budget given to it to do its job. What would be the consequences for the ICO being seen to be taking away from PHE the budget given to them to deal with a national public health crisis?

      About the only option it has would be to use its powers against an officer of the body responsible. Perhaps it ought to do that. AFAIK it's not been done against an individual in the private sector so it would be by way of being a test case and probably lead to the ICO still being pilloried for distracting management attention at such a critical time etc etc.

      1. jason_derp Bronze badge

        Re: There we go again

        "What would be the consequences for the ICO being seen to be taking away from PHE the budget given to them to deal with a national public health crisis?"

        I would hope that it would be seen taking away money away from the PHE budget. Doing a job isn't always going to be easy, but if you only do the job when it is easy, it might be a sign that the job was never all that necessary to begin with. If they can't enforce rules then the message is that there's no need for enforcers or rules. The alternative is that the rules are necessary, and so somebody who will actually do their job needs to step in.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: There we go again

          "I would hope that it would be seen taking away money away from the PHE budget."

          It would be seen as that. And political suicide for the ICO.

          Perhaps a compromise would be for the ICO to appoint a consultant of their own choice to do the impact statement for them and fine them the cost of that. It wouldn't be effectively taking away the budget if it was used to do what should have been done out of the budget in the first place.

          In an ideal world failure to fulfil such an obligation by a public servant would be dealt with as a disciplinary matter. It doesn't seem likely that somebody low down would have been told to produce an impact statement and failed to do so; more likely that somebody higher up failed - inadvertently or otherwise - to instruct anybody to do so. It's a very long time since anyone in that position was disciplined.

          On the whole, however, I'd prefer them to take a punish the official approach. It would send a message to both public and private sectors, especially to the latter that if you fold the company we'll just come after you.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "No evidence of data being used unlawfully"

    Because if we do it like Trump says and we don't look for evidence, then we can't find any, now can we ?

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: "No evidence of data being used unlawfully"

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Just because they haven't found evidence, even if they are actively looking for it, doesn't mean it hasn't happened. It just means they don't know it has happened.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: "No evidence of data being used unlawfully"

      There is no DPIA. The government are collecting the data anyway. That's ample evidence of unlawful use.

      I'm not sure that "but no-one else is behaving unlawfully like we are" is relevant to the matter at hand.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "No evidence of data being used unlawfully"

      I thought there was GDPR, except it's gummint collecting the data.

      "One law for ME, another law for THEE"

      and a quote (as I remember it) from George Orwell's "Animal Farm"

      "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "No evidence of data being used unlawfully"

        Tired quotes there Bobo

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    But of course

    If we had a competent UK government, who had done all in their power, successfully, to keep the death toll down to a few thousand, then people would say, well, OK it's an emergency, we won't worry too much about GDPR if it saves lives.

    But of course, we haven't. Their 'app' wasted millions, weeks and cost lives. And still they breach GDPR.

    The sooner Johnson and the rest of the Tories start their whole-life sentences breaking rocks on Dartmoor the better. No need to waste time on a trial...

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: But of course

      @Pen-y-gors

      "The sooner Johnson and the rest of the Tories start their whole-life sentences breaking rocks on Dartmoor the better. No need to waste time on a trial..."

      I do wonder how much of this is the tories. Public health england has so far been found so badly wanting I would be interested to know if any heads will roll there. What is the point of these organisations if they cant do their job when they are needed?

      As you say this wouldnt be such an issue with a competent government but the government is more than just the party in charge. How they react to the failure of PHE is how I will judge them.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: But of course

        I do wonder how much of this is the tories. Public health england has so far been found so badly wanting I would be interested to know if any heads will roll there.

        The staff on the front line at PHE were doing an absolutely wonderful job when it came to tracking and tracing. It's the paid-for government shills at the top who are giving it a bad name. Of course their heads won't roll.

        If the government let competent people do the jobs they are good at we wouldn't see such incompetence. But that doesn't suit an incompetent government preparing scapegoats for their incompetence and failings.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          @Jason Bloomberg

          "The staff on the front line at PHE were doing an absolutely wonderful job when it came to tracking and tracing. It's the paid-for government shills at the top who are giving it a bad name. Of course their heads won't roll."

          Of course the problem is from above. Unfortunately the state is so big it is bound to have various issues which of course the party elected get the blame for. I am not sure how true it is that Hancock read about the covid counting failures on a blog but this is where he needs to dig into the public service and either collapse the organisation as a failure or try to fix it.

          "If the government let competent people do the jobs they are good at we wouldn't see such incompetence. But that doesn't suit an incompetent government preparing scapegoats for their incompetence and failings."

          I agree but the government is bigger than just the elected party, its the civil service. Unfortunately the elected parties have so far been fans of the big state and that compounds the problem.

      2. Jemma

        Re: But of course

        Who the bloody hell do you think it was who've been doing their best to screw the NHS since it was dragged into the world like the forceps delivery of the spawn of Katie Price and a stoned Dingo?

        The People's Front of Judea perhaps? Or maybe the Campaign for Free Galilee?

        Oh silly me it was the fucking Conservatives - Stalinism with a Human Face - England for the Inbred - aka The Lavrenti Beria Appreciation Society.

        The ones who clapped the nurses while taking their salaries down into the basement, throwing a grenade in there and quickly shutting the plate armor door..

        Or maybe the ones who've lied through their teeth worse than the Chinese government and make the Stainless Steel Twat look like frigging Einstein.

        The whole lot of parliament should be taken to the tower and publicly executed for treason and you're wondering whose fault it was that the Dieppe Raid would be considered a roaring success compared to the UK CV19 response (ditto Gallipoli, Arnhem and the Defence of Singapore).

        I knew Brexit was a fucking stupid idea but Christ Almighty if after 6 bloody MONTHS of this you can't figure out who to blame - then God help us - it's like everyone under the age of 30 has suddenly contracted retrospective Zika Microcephaly and been reduced to dribbling retards.. Flat Cap Disease has evolved* into Flat Skull Disease.

        Or maybe its a new CV19 symptom - a sudden IQ drop of about 70 points and an unshakeable belief in the "Kinnwenigerprincip".

        *Except North of the Ipswich Line.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But of course

          Ooooh look, Rebecca Long-Bailey has an El Reg account!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But of course

        >>>Public health england has so far been found so badly wanting

        It's ALWAYS someone else's fault with this crowd, isn't it.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          @AC

          "It's ALWAYS someone else's fault with this crowd, isn't it."

          Why? There is plenty to complain about the gov about but PHE screwed this up amazingly. Who do you want to pass the buck to?

      4. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        Who do you think was reaponsible for defunding the NHS to breaking point?

        It's the same in The Netherlands; there's a public health system that works fine, then the neo-liberals come in and defund the public service until it almost breaks. They then point out that the public system is not working and that healthcare privatisation is the way forward.

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          "It's the same in The Netherlands; there's a public health system that works fine, [...] that healthcare privatisation is the way forward."

          Don't get that. I'm currently living in NL and paying into the hybrid system here: 1. health insurance (choice of insurance companies and packages, they have to accept everybody, basic premium approx. EUR 100/month); 2. health charge through the tax system (income-dependent, in my case costing rather more than my insurance premium).

          All GPs are in the private sector (mostly self-employed, like in the UK) and hospitals, etc. are mostly independent, not-for-profit trusts I think. There are some for-profit-hospitals, but they have a habit of going bust, or provide only a v limited range of services.

          To my mind that's a hybrid system. And even if the VVD (main right of centre party) should want further privatisation that's unlikely to happen as most other parties probably wouldn't support that. (Governments are always coalitions here so the swings to the left and right are attenuated.)

          Fortunately I have very little direct experience of the health service, but I have been supporting an elderly Dutch friend over the last year or two who's had some significant health problems and I've been v impressed by the standard of care he's received. As Mrs H said about one of the hospitals nearby: it looks more like a good hotel, with an atmosphere of calm. At the peak of the corona stuff I had to take another friend to A&E after a fall (and a telephone consultation with her GP) and everything was operating normally, within a few hours she'd had an X-ray, MRI scan and assessments by several doctors (fortunately it turned out not to be serious). So don't think there's been any defunding, certainly not to breaking point. Don't get that impression from the newspapers either - what's your source of information?

          FYI: politically I'm just to the right of the centre and believe in a market economy - most of the time.

          1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Re: But of course

            - Do you still remember the 'ziekenfonds' system? Probably not. Ask someone who has what they paid for cover, if there was an excess and a limit to what's covered.

            - Check how many of the insurers parent companies there are. All insurers are essentially subsidiaries of just a few companies, so any 'comperition' is fake.

            - Read up on how the husband of one of the former ministers of health was running a consultancy that helped medical professionals to work the system for maximum profit.

            - Check how much money is being wasted by all these differen companies essentially doimg the same thing. Duplicating effort.

            - Capitalism is about providing the least amount of money for the maximum amount of profit. What do you think will happen if regulations get laxer every year?

            Is it extremely bad? No, not yet.

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: But of course

              "- Do you still remember the 'ziekenfonds' system? "

              I don't have personal experience of it. As far I am aware those on lower incomes were covered by the Zikenfonds, while those above an income threshold had to get private insurance. Doesn't necessarily sound better than the current NL system, esp. not if your income varies from one year to the next.

              1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                Re: But of course

                This is incorrect.

                That system covered everyone regardless of income. People could get private insurance, but that would only be for things like having a private room instead of lying in a ward with 5 other people.

                When I started working I was paying 25 guilders (about €11) a month, which came directly out of my wages. No excess, no limitations on the number of treatments. Dental was included as long as you made sure you went to the dentist for a checkup every year.

                Public services have deteriorated drastically in the last 20 years, while prices and taxes have gone up, while in the meantime wages have been stagnant since the introduction of the Euro.

                This is due to companies giving positions on the board of directors if they were favourable to the company while in office.

                There was one labour party prime minister who's now sitting on the board of directors of Shell. Judges and politicians are allowed to have side-jobs in private companies and 'self-regulate' to ensure there's no conficts if interest.

                Management in health care high wages, while the 'essential' people are working for peanuts (and the managment layer has significantly grown since privatisation).

                I am in favour of capitalism and free market. But without heavy regulation and real competition, capitalism devolves in monopolies, even Adam Smith confirmed this and warned against this in his Wealth of Nations (a fact that people who call themselves 'capitalist', will usually not admit to).

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          @Kabukiwookie

          "Who do you think was reaponsible for defunding the NHS to breaking point?"

          I dunno who? So far the NHS keeps getting more and more funding even beyond Brown. Blair and Brown selling everything they can and using PFI contracts to piss amazing and unsustainable amounts of money on public services.

          "They then point out that the public system is not working and that healthcare privatisation is the way forward."

          Labour? Blair and Brown did most of the privatisation so far.

          1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Re: But of course

            Gordon Brown was so far up Bush' ass that he could almost touch Blair's feet.

            Nu-Labour is not Labour.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: But of course

              @Kabukiwookie

              "Gordon Brown was so far up Bush' ass that he could almost touch Blair's feet.

              Nu-Labour is not Labour."

              Need to tell the labour voters that. They were the ones who stuck by the first labour guy near enough to the centre to be electable since 79. Disowning nu-labour as not labour is like disowning the tories because they shifted so far left they became nu-labour (Cameron and Osborne). I know some people who do that (vote for them but disown) but it doesnt change the fact.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But of course

            "Labour? Blair and Brown did most of the privatisation so far."

            Exactly. Why do people insist on blaming everything on the Conservative Government? Just becuase they are in power it doesn't mean they are in any way responsible.

            1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

              Re: But of course

              In my initial comment I was blaming neo-liberals, not the Tory party. Tory or Nu-Labour. There wasn't much difference.

              Blair was a neo-liberal disguised as Labour. Just like the 2 party demockracy in the US, they're both in the pocket if big business.

              The labour party needs to clean out any neo-liberals and corporatists that have wormed their way into the party.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: But of course

                The labour party needs to clean out any neo-liberals and corporatists that have wormed their way into the party.

                Couldn't agree more. That will keep them unelectable for decades to come.

                1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                  Re: But of course

                  You might be right. Most people do seem to vote against their own best interest.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But of course

          Who do you think was reaponsible for defunding the NHS to breaking point?

          NHS funding has increased by almost 4% in real terms every year for the past 70 years.

          The problem is that when it was created it really didn't do much more than make sure people had access to GPs and hospitals, and got their vaccinations. It could never have allowed for the enormous advances that make things like heart surgery routine, the increase in life expectancy (largely due to health improvements) and the massive increases in costs that grow with it. Health is by definition a bottomless pit, you'll never get a 100% healthy population no matter how much you spend. It's a practical impossibilty to fully fund a health service.

          1. AlbertH

            Re: But of course

            NHS funding has increased by almost 4% in real terms every year for the past 70 years.

            Unfortunately, Brown and Blair invented the wheeze of "creating" bureaucratic "jobs" in the NHS to get people off the dole. The rate of increase in bureaucracy has eaten up every year's increase in NHS stipend.

            There are three layers of unnecessary pen-pushing oxygen thieves in the NHS. If this waste of money was removed - it's easy to do: Just ask them to explain their "jobs", and when they can't, sack them. The huge amount of money saved could be put to clinical use and to pay for more medical staff. The "lockdown" has amply demonstrated that the NHS functions perfectly well without the useless bureaucrats.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: But of course

      When did any of the major political parties suggest abolishing the right to a trail by jury? What you are suggesting is just that.

      We aren't the USSR, GDR or China you know.

      What possibly 'trumped' (sic) up charges would you give them 'whole life' sentences for?

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        Unfortunately that *has* been a suggestion of action by the Tories to 'speed things up' and reduce backlog(1) (even pre-COVID). Legal eagles have naturally pushed back knowing that there are *so* many things that can (and do) go wrong in non-jury trials. You may want to read the book(s) by the Secret Barrister. You'll be surprised how badly broken the law is in this country and how much it favours those who can afford expensive legal representation and don't need recourse to Legal Aid.

        (1)Legislation to abolish some jury trials could be passed within weeks

      2. Jemma

        Re: what charges...

        The 65000 extra deaths this year might be a good bloody start don't you think?

        Or the criminal and systematic neglect of the NHS the Tory party have been guilty of?

        Or the £60000 a loved one payoff for NHS families that might just buy you a nice 4x4 to make up for your wife's/daughters/parents etc death in service? Because "PPE, what's that?" And just you try claiming for an unborn child who died as a result - life will begin "at birth" so fast the afterbirth will leave skid marks. Funny how that changed isn't it...

        An unfunny joke for you...

        "What's the difference between Jimmy Saville and Boris Johnson (and Co)?

        Boris fucked more kids". Both through destroyed families and Interleukin Kawasakis.

        I'm glad for you all, you voted and you got exactly what you deserved - and you still can't see what's happened and understand what's happening now - first we had the Wehraboo - now we've got the Borisboo - he's not really a sociopathic incompetent cockwomble, he's just misunderstood. Maybe we should get David Irving to write his biography... He's used to people who "follow the science" after all..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: what charges...

          The 65000 extra deaths this year might be a good bloody start don't you think?

          We won't have any true picture of the excess death rate until the figures for the whole year are available, since we don't know how many of those were related to the restrictions of lockdown, and/or were deaths that would have happened anyway over the next 6 months.

          What we do know is that the figure isn't 65,000. It's 46,000 of which about 11,000 were not caused by COVID-19.

          What's the difference between Jimmy Saville and Boris Johnson (and Co)?

          Boris fucked more kids". Both through destroyed families and Interleukin Kawasakis

          That is tasteless, and nonsense. You really need to stop reading the far left propaganda and get out into the real world.

          I'm glad for you all, you voted and you got exactly what you deserved

          And I, for one, am so glad that we didn't have to go through this under Corbyn's labour party. he might seem like a nice, paternal, grandfather figure but his inability to take any decisions would have left us with more dead, and a real economic catastrophe to follow.

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: what charges...

            Dear Coward,

            The very last thing this government can be held up as a shining example of is decision-making.

            About the only valid thing Corbyn can be accused of is not pandering to the media.

          2. Jemma

            Re: what charges...

            65000 EXTRA DEATHS OVER THE PERIOD OF CV19 IN TOTAL, figures from the BBC. What part of this do you fail to understand? 95% will be due to CV19 either directly or indirect because that is the ONLY substantial reason that has changed other than the usual level of normal wastage and Darwineering.

            It is not bloody rocket science.

            Interleukin 7 syndrome is a fact and it has killed children. Children now will be future suicides because of what is happening now or didn't you get the PTSD Memo. PTSD in fucking 5 year old children, already. The government has put children at risk and continues to do so. And their families too.

            Did I forget the Ebola outbreak that's kicked off in western Africa? Everyone else has.

            I'm sick to death of this. Fucking Borisboo and Trumpyboo drivel about it not happening while they're renting freezer trailers for the corpses so bloody fast in Inbredistan the manufacturers are in danger of a backlog in orders.

            60-70% of entire families are being wiped out. Inbredistan again - yet 50% of Black Inbredistanis are whining about vaccines even while its killing them...

            Dribbling idiots are cutting holes in masks because "its stuffy" - here try some Phosgene - it's like A CV19 simulator.

            And the worst of it - after all this - all you dribbling idiots will sit back after they've killed and crippled members of your families and friends and let the governments rape your pensions and businesses and raise taxes to PAY FOR THEIR MISTAKES FROM YOUR MONEY and

            You

            Will

            Still

            Vote

            And

            STILL

            Believe

            Everything

            They

            Say.

            And you will let them.

            Because you are too spineless and too stupid and too utterly uneducated and lazy to do anything else.

            TIK, a YouTube historian has some good things to say but in the case of Jeff Bezos he has it dead wrong. Jeffy boy isn't selling a product - he's selling fuck all - all he's selling is laziness and inactivity to fat gormless dribbling idiots and he's even charging extra for the privilege of SRi 130 grade laziness (+optional Irmcher body kit, I think the rear electric lifts were standard).

            The human race is unsavable - the fucktard ratio is far too high. It wasn't even good while it lasted.

            I've been embarrassed for years to be associated with this crappy little island - but the behaviour of combined humanity in this last 6 months is beyond any form of mental processing. Clapping for the NHS while you vote to cut the budget EVERY FUCKING YEAR.

            Whining about lockdown when YOU elected a government that thinks (and I use the term under advisement) murdering its own citizens by incompetence on a Darwinian scale something to aspire to.

            Deliberately putting other people at risk on days when you are SPECIFICALLY told to stay in, when you lard your way through Amazon Prime every other day - just as a government FUCK YOU, and then complaining about how you couldn't snuggle your corpse-o-gran - THAT YOU OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU infected.

            Going OUT OF YOUR WAY to put a frail, ill, or old person at risk because you are "more important".

            Humanity makes me sick, the combined fuckwittery is mind shattering. If we could harness the output power of worldwide idiocy and criminal denial we'd have clean energy until the end of time itself..

            After the Nuremburg trials one of the psychiatric experts ended up suiciding - and the general consensus was that he did it for a very simple reason. He talked to the Nazi leaders and he examined them psychologically and try as he might he couldn't find anything wrong with them - they were completely normal - people who were completely normal could do and plan the things that were done. And finally it popped his brain and the guy took Cyanide.

            Congratulations on today, gentlefolk, because over the last 6 months and today - you've proved his theory - and left the NSDAP in the dust. Savour that if you will, the spite, viciousness, mindlessness, bigotry, abuse and general fucking idiocy has been of a level and a grade considered previously unreachable even by cynics like me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: what charges...

              It is not bloody rocket science.

              No, it's epidemiology and statistics, which is much harder.

              I really have neither the time not the interest to respond in detail to such an outpouring of ill-informed, paranoid, bile, but to challenge a few statements:

              You Will Still Vote And STILL Believe Everything They Say.

              Because you are too spineless and too stupid and too utterly uneducated and lazy to do anything else.

              I will still vote, after looking at the facts, because I am intelligent, educated, and motivated to look up facts instead of swallowing the puerile nonsense from social media and far-left conspiracists. I have no idea what age you are, but I'm old enough to have lived through many governments, right and left, in several countries. Your bile-filled, spittle-flecked rants are ignorant, ill-informed, and plain wrong.

              Deliberately putting other people at risk on days when you are SPECIFICALLY told to stay in, when you lard your way through Amazon Prime every other day

              So which is it, stay in and order online, or go out to shop?

              Going OUT OF YOUR WAY to put a frail, ill, or old person at risk because you are "more important".

              You have to be really sick to think like that. Have you considered seeing a therapist?

            2. AlbertH
              Mushroom

              Re: what charges...

              If you're stupid enough to believe the "figures" invented by the "woke" BBC, you really shouldn't post here.

              It's interesting to note that there have been virtually zero recorded 'flu deaths since January. It's easier to tick the "Covid" box, rather than do the job properly. It's thought that there may have been around 7200 actual Covid deaths in the UK. Almost all of those are amongst obese asians. That's the unmentionable "elephant in the room"

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: what charges...

          "Because "PPE, what's that?""

          If you have read the news today you would find out that the NHS missed out on deliveries of masks because the French company that was contracted to supply them were visited by the Chinese government, who convinced them to renege on the contract and supply them instead.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: what charges...

            >>NHS missed out on deliveries of masks because the French company that was contracted to supply them were visited by the Chinese government, who convinced them to renege on the contract and supply them instead.

            Interesting. Link please! (Where is my popcorn ... ?)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: what charges...

              I read that story - it's hardly hard to find, and wasn't that hard to find when it was first published in March. It wouldn't really have taken a genius level intellect to have guessed that ordering PPE to deal with epidemics 'just in time' might not have been an ultra bright decision. Bit like saying 'This ship doesn't need lifeboats, but if we do hit an iceberg we can always get some delivered by Amazon tomorrow'

              1. John Jennings Bronze badge

                Re: what charges...

                not only 'just in time' - more about globalization .

              2. Jemma

                Re: what charges...

                You mean the RMS Olympic that got smashed up to the point of being a write off, hurriedly renamed to Titanic, even more hurriedly reinsured for over its value a week before it steamed (you'd almost think they knew something) and smacked into an iceberg deliberately sideways*... That one?

                The Titanic with the riveted nameplate (when White Star practice was countersinking the name into the plates) and the two visible countersunk letters M & P...

                You mean that one?

                *while having been on fire for almost a week..

                1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                  Re: what charges...

                  You mean the RMS Olympic that got smashed up to the point of being a write off, hurriedly renamed to Titanic, even more hurriedly reinsured for over its value a week before it steamed

                  And yet, astonishingly, managed to sail on until decommissioned in 1935?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: what charges...

            Yes, and Trump pressuring 3M to send its' products to the US rather than others (60% of 3M's production being outside of the US) wouldn't help either.

            Neither of these explain the mysterious dissappearance of millions of items of PPE from the national pandemic stockpile, though. Nor the government's insistence that everyone has PPE and there's no shortage when medical professionals on the frontline clearly are experiencing shortages (I can appreciate there might be enough in the supply chain and it's not been delivered, but as far as the staff are [correctly] concerned, that's a shortage). Nor the government's unwillingness to engage with local smaller suppliers to supply Trusts in their local area (which would have eased logistical issues), instead only pursuing a few large-scale national supply agreements.

            1. staringatclouds
              Flame

              Re: what charges...

              Don't forget how PPE is counted 10,000 boxes of tissues with an average content of 100 tissues per box = 1 million items of PPE

              Mysterious disappearance ?

              Nah, creative accounting, misdirection & criminal negligence

              EG multi purpose items

              Silly example, say a bin liner can be used as a bin liner disposing hazardous waste or an emergency surgical gown or an impromptu body bag, all possible PPE uses

              So a bin liner gets counted 3 times

              Then it's used as a bin liner & only that use is ticked off the spreadsheet

              The figures say you've still got 2 more items of PPE, good luck finding them

              1. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: what charges...

                "Don't forget how PPE is counted 10,000 boxes of tissues with an average content of 100 tissues per box = 1 million items of PPE"

                Also gloves were counted individually.

          3. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: what charges...

            Don't forget that the US Government pulled the same stunt on the French on the tarmac in China...

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        Google "Diplock trials"

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: But of course

      Ideally banishing them to Tristan da Cunha or Ascension Island would be better... St Helena now has an airport so it's easier to get off than the aforementioned (Ascension has an airfield but it's a joint RAF/USAF one and it's out of action until 2022).

      1. Jemma

        Re: But of course

        Ideally I'd suggest tying all of them down over the muzzles of 6pdr field guns loaded with practice (or maybe grapeshot) rounds and doing an "Indian Mutiny" tribute would be the best idea.

        Nice and cheap for the government, a fun day out for the family, and you could make a fortune selling footage of Priti Patel being blasted to a pair of smoking heels to Tory voters.. Oh sorry, I mean darknet sickos.. Oh, they're the same thing?

        Everybody wins..

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          Given how much as I despise the bastard Tories, it's not often I get to wholeheartedly downvote a comment slagging off those same bastard Tories.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        St. Helena does indeed now have an airport, although so far has had very few flights taking place due to a variety of problems. One being wind-shear that limited the type of aircraft that can use the airport, and another being money problems of the airport's operator. Its inhabitants are British citizens with British passports - but have no right to reside in Britain, a fact that is a very sore bone of contention for the islanders. With a population of less than 5000 people, it would not pose a significant issue even if the entire population were to suddenly decide to go to live in the UK - though that is of course highly unlikely. Due to the fact that there is very little work on the island, much of the population is already living on UK "dole" anyway. Either that or are employed in the Public Works Department doing unnecessary work for the sake of appearances (the white line down the hight street of Jamestown was repainted every 2 weeks while I was there - despite the fact that there were only about 10 cars on the island at the time.

        I had the pleasure of visiting the island by yacht in the 1970's. In many ways it is like travelling back in time to 18th century England, and while English is the official language and is easily understandable, it is old-fashioned English. For example, I was looking out to sea using a pair of binoculars when a child approached me and very asked, "Might I p'raps take a look through your spyglass, sir?"

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          The thing is that Tristan da Cunha truly is still sea-locked. They only get visited by passing ships. The island's website makes a big deal out of the fact that you have to *plan* to visit them. Ascension gets a monthly South African Express flight via St Helena (because the runway needs properly renovating and the little Embraer SAX use can still take off on the bit that's still in decent condition), but that's less than the weekly flight St Helena gets (by the same airline, with the same little Embraer), so less chance of escaping your banishment (and more time to plot). :-)

          Of course my comment of banishment was a bit snarky (but someone clearly took it serious enough to downvote it - *HI* anonymous Tory voter!).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But of course

      "If we had a competent UK government"

      But that is clearly not what The People voted for, so no point dreaming. We voted for a bunch of incompetent one-trick pony amateurs (just look at that cabinet) who already spent the last 10 years in headless-chicken mode.

      Just buckle up and grit your teeth for the next 10-15 years. Because this is all there is now. ENJOY.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But of course

      The sooner Johnson and the rest of the Tories start their whole-life sentences breaking rocks on Dartmoor the better.

      Do you seriously think it would have been any different under the Corbynistas?

      This isn't a party-political issue, everybody (worldwide) was making it up as they went along, as the science tried to keep up with the developing situation. Other countries' apps were just as big a fiasco, none seems to have been of any major use, and you hardly see them mentioned now.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        Do you seriously think it would have been any different under the Corbynistas?

        I came on to say the same thing but found that you had beaten me to it. However, the point is so relevant that I feel that repeating it here is worthwhile.

        IMHO a Corbynist government would have been an even bigger disaster.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But of course

          Roll out the Corbyn/Labour bogeyman to justify the last 10 years incompetence, the current fiascos and whatever other future catastrophucs President Dominic has planned. Brilliant.

          "The Covid response was bad, but just imagine if Lord Buckethead had been in charge !!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

          With that attitude we definitly deserve everything these ****s have got coming down the pipe for us. Everything.

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        > Do you seriously think it would have been any different under the Corbynistas?

        Maybe not but COVID-19 has shown that here in Scotland, over the water in Northern Ireland and doon a bit in Wales we all have more competant governments than the UK. If only the UK could have as competant a PM as the First Ministers of the devolved Parliaments.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          Given that Boris & Dom's (or Doris', given the liking for portmanteau couple names) idea seems to have been to do a Trump and deny there's any sort of problem (for fear of hurting the economy) until forced to do otherwise by events, then yes, I think someone without a banker's hand up their arse might well have done better.

          They could, after all, have hardly done worse.

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But of course

            Upvote for "Doris".

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          Maybe not but COVID-19 has shown that here in Scotland, over the water in Northern Ireland and doon a bit in Wales we all have more competant governments than the UK.

          Very scary, having lived in N.I, I find the thought that the N.I. Assembly could be considered competent extremely hard to imagine. It wasn't that long ago they spent an awful long time not doing anything.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: But of course

            "the N.I. Assembly"

            Or any of its predecessors.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          Have the measures adopted in Wales or Scotland proven to be either necessary or more effective than those in England?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But of course

            Using the numbers from Johns Hopkins University ...

            Scotland 457 deaths/million, 3400 confirmed cases per million, 13% of confirmed cases die.

            Wales 493 deaths/million, 5403 confirmed cases per million, 16% of confirmed cases die.

            England 727 deaths/million, 4539 confirmed cases per million, 9% of confirmed cases die.

            Obviously the numbers aren't going to be perfect due to reporting issues, and aren't going to be directly comparable due to population demographic variances.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: But of course

              "Obviously the numbers aren't going to be perfect due to reporting issues"

              One interesting fact that emerged from HMGs preferred measure is that any death from any cause is counted as a COVID-19 death if the deceased had had a +ve test at some time. Eventually that will reach 100% of confirmed cases.

    6. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: But of course

      Whatever measure had been taken is unlikely to have saved many lives in the long run. The whole quarantine notion was stated from the outset to be a *delaying* measure, not a preventative measure.

      The only situation in which it would save lives is if it prevented hospitals from being overwhelmed and unable to treat people who would otherwise have been saved. But AFAIAA the hospitals in the UK were not overwhelmed to any significant degree, so the measures we adopted in the UK have apparently worked.

      And the more Draconian measures adopted by some countries (e.g. some Asian countries) have resulted in MORE deaths, as people die from poverty-related issues and the result of not being able to travel. Even in the UK there have been deaths as a direct result of the lockdown.

      We either need to wait for an effective vaccine or will have to suffer until we get herd immunity naturally. Assuming that that is possible and Covid does not end up being a fact of life we have to live with the same as the common cold.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: But of course

        What utter crapulence.

        You mendacious apologist.

        Every day's delay is lives saved.

        A week earlier lock down would have led to approx 50% reductions in the current death rate due to the way an exponential progression works. (google it)

        The viral density goes down, those who catch it get it milder and later.

        The PPE gets spread about more evenly and with less peak demand - less NHS staff die.

        Less CV-19 riven patients get discharged to nursing homes to infect their new friends.

        etc etc.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: But of course

        The fact remains that Nicola Sturgeon presented a consistent message throughout. There was no blustering. There was no wishy-washy moving of goal posts. There was no 'garden press conference from an unelected SpAd-who-got-caught-with-his-pants-down-250-miles-from-where-he-was-supposed-to-be'. There was leadership. There was caution.

        All of the above was sorely absent from the party-line spin that No. 10 presented to the point where they were annoyed when someone pulled them up on failing on their promise to do 100,000 tests a day (shipping 100,000 tests out per post does not count as 'actually performing 100,000 tests a day'), and then suddenly not showing the figures, and suddenly pulling people from the daily conference saying "they have better places to be" (really?)

        So yes, if you want to argue that the measures were a delay measure (yes, I agree with you on that), it was clarity of message, clear leadership, zero tolerance for breaches by staff/advisory roles and consistency in reporting that was missing from the UK government, that made the country's response look shambolic and incompetent. This is why sensible people in England followed *Scotland's* advice, masked up despite various politicians saying "nah, we don't need that" and rolling out their favourite naysayers in the media, and continued to stay home unless it was for necessities, and continue to rather look to Holyrood than Westminster.

        There is no point in saying "oh, but it would've been as bad or worse under Labour". We don't know if it would've been. Whataboutery and coulda-shoulda-woulda holds no water in arguments.

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: But of course

          "The fact remains that Nicola Sturgeon presented a consistent message throughout. "

          Yup, I strongly disagree with much of her politics, but she does seem to be an effective leader and inspire confidence.

    7. AlbertH
      WTF?

      Re: But of course

      Boris & Co can only be convicted of ignorance and stupidity. They made the mistake of listening to "Professor Doom" Ferguson again, and basing their policy decisions on the nonsense provided by him and Imperial.

      As an aside: I've run Ferguson's "model" many times and it gives virtually random results. Imperial's suggested "fix" for this is to "average the results"!

      "Track & Trace" is a nonsense - nobody will ever provide truly accurate details of their movements and contacts with other people. It's just a fact of data collection - try getting someone to describe what they did yesterday, minute by minute, and they (normally) just can't do it accurately!

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "In no way has [there] been a breach of any of the data that has been stored."

    At least, none that we know about.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    But - but - but .... We used all the bast practices we'd adopted at Talk-Talk.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I'm just so surprised

    That was a lie - I'm practicing being in denial, as I think we're all going to need it.

  7. Jemma

    No evidence of data breaches

    ...

    "But we'll let you know when we find out which park bench we left it on... (the trains weren't running don'tchaknow).

    Thank you, no more questions"

    ...

    AKA

    The Sir Humphrey Appleby School of Data Security.

  8. John Robson Silver badge

    I would consider accepting the "Doing it next week"... if....

    The T&T had been rolled out in the week following the Google/Apple API, and we were still in that week - and it had a kill switch (to reduce the risks associated with an adverse report)

    But it's *so* late to the party that there is no excuse for not having done the assessment in full.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it appears that the Socialist approach is to make sure that all the paperwork and documentation is correct, actually saving lives is a secondary matter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Criticizing an organisation for failing to follow legislation on data protection isn't 'socialist'. And not following legislation on data protection isn't beneficial, or even 'harmless', if it reduces consumer confidence in a process which by it's very nature is dependent on the public's trust. And as has been pointed out complying with the legislation would probably have taken a few hours work by someone who, and I apologise at the implied slight,probably wasn't actually contributing cutting edge assembly code to a clever bluetooth stack - like maybe NHS England's DPO, or one of her team.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I agree public confidence is critical but an honest impact assessment of the actual situation would ham that. Putting together an honest and acceptable impact assessment would have required changes to policies (such as "we're going to keep this data for decades and not limit processing to what's required by track and trace"). That would have been high level, taken ages of infighting and the reason it hasn't happened is that the required policy changes wouldn't be forthcoming anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You dropped your crowbar trying to leverage in the world "socialist"

  10. Commswonk Silver badge

    History Repeats Itself...

    IIRC Matt Hancock came up with an App for something some time ago and was roundly ridiculed for his efforts because of some glaring security blunder. He, of all people, ought to have known better than to play fast and loose with personal data collected in the name of Covid - 19.

    On a not entirely unrelated point it would be interesting to see the results of some decent research carried out by qualified psycologists into why those who rise to the top of the dungheap that is politics are such complete fuckwits. It seems to be an inescapable truth.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: History Repeats Itself...

      I can't say that I've done any decent research, but my initial thought would be that a person who demonstrates that they are capable of backstabbing or brown-tonguing their way to the top of a greasy pole hasn't necessarily demonstrated an ability to lead or to manage any form of organisation, to assess any set of complex issues even with expert help, or to implement any form of solution which would meet broad public approval.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: History Repeats Itself...

      "He, of all people, ought to have known better"

      Only if he had a capacity to learn from his mistakes - or recognise that he made any.

  11. xyz

    Hold up...

    Someone should be writing all this down. Then we can sell it as a comedy programme called, I dunno, Yes Minister or something. I think it might be funny.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Hold up...

      Unfortunately the next generation, on the way to fulfilling that prophetic film 'Idiocracy', will see it as an instruction manual...

  12. Richard 12 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    There is already evidence of data breaches

    Private data is being shared via WhatsApp (and other private messaging) because the staff have so little training that they barely know what to do. Or not do.

    Coronavirus contact tracers sharing patients’ data on WhatsApp and Facebook (The Times, paywall)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There is already evidence of data breaches

      How astonishing. You'd think they worked for a business that didn't know to send out bulk emails with BCC.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: There is already evidence of data breaches

      Well, even when they know not to do this, they do it anyway. Especially when they recognise it is someone famous... Bragging rights, snobbery and the like trump personal privacy every bloody time.

  13. Napper

    I thought DPIA's would have been completed on a massive project like this. In the bit of the public sector I work in, currently educating members of staff on what a DPIA is and why you might need one.

    I don't think the ICO would fine Public Health England too much (a token amount perhaps), but may instead restrict their ability to process data, perhaps giving an additional incentive for the government to 'fix it'.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The problem would be in educating the policy makers. A DPIA saying what the impact of existing policy is would make far more newspaper headlines than a court saying that haven't had one when they should.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This country sucks

    Title says it all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This country sucks

      Title says it all.

      Then fuck off somewhere else and take your pessimism with you.

  15. Steve Channell
    Facepalm

    Aborted Covid App

    GDPR would have been covered by the terms of service of the Covid App. GDPR does not regulate "data protection", just that you agree to the usage..

    One if the consequences of pulling the app says before go-live

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Aborted Covid App

      Bullshit.

      GDPR covers the legal process for the collection PII regardless of method. It would have been a bloody wide TOS for an App to have covered the entirety of contract tracking, and would immediately have failed the "informed consent" test for non-digital collection channels.

      The failure of a PIA was on the whole Test and Trace program not the failure to do a PIA for the App part of it.

      As others have said on this thread it takes about an afternoon to do a PIA (much longer to implement the best practises of course), but the PIA is effectively the MAP not the directions. Its just the same as a set of SDLC or Programming Best Practise guidelines. It tells you where your risk areas are and how to mitigate them.

      Like for example make sure your staff know that leaking PII could leave the organisation facing multi million £ fines, and having procedures in place to go agressively after staff who breach PII related policies.

      Go do your homework.

  16. James12345
    Headmaster

    Think this story might have been miscategorised as Security - surely it should be in this section https://www.theregister.com/business/policy/ ?

  17. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    Loosen the rules in a pandemic

    There is a balance, especially as bureaucrats use data protection as the go to excuse when they want to avoid doing something. Even if they show good will it creates delays to rollouts.

    Not saying abandon data protection just would have been easy for a lawyer to come up with a paragraph or two of sensible opt outs where there will be no prosecution.

    Such as public agencies can share details of infected people where it assists tracing and contacting, as long as information deleted and media + social media specifically banned from publishing. Deletion of all details after 1 month plus a sunset clause for the exemption.

  18. EnviableOne Silver badge

    The ICO is wrong

    Its due dilligence, and in the case where "Special Category Data" or in DPA98 speak "Sensitive Personal Information" is being processed it is mandatory:

    GDPR / DPA2018

    Article 35 Data protection impact assessment

    Section 1 "Where a type of processing in particular using new technologies, and taking into account the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing, is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons, the controller shall, prior to the processing, carry out an assessment of the impact of the envisaged processing operations on the protection of personal data."

    Section 3 "A data protection impact assessment referred to in paragraph 1 shall in particular be required in the case of: "

    (b) "processing on a large scale of special categories of data referred to in Article 9(1), or of personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences referred to in Article 10"

  19. AdamWill

    waiting for the day...

    ...that someone explains to this government the logical problem with not looking for evidence of something, then declaring that it's not a problem because they haven't seen any evidence of it.

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