However, [Gartner VP Avivah] Litan warned that the chance of identity theft was actually small, at just 1%.
As Chris says, the chance of this estimate being scientifically defensible is even smaller.
What’s actually happened is that several Titanics have hit several icebergs. I use this analogy because I was listening to a podcast with Henry Petrovski. He’s the chap who, if I understand things correctly, argues that, contrary to design theory’s conventional wisdom that "Form follows function" (design theorists being, so to say, the ideologists of successful designers), it is more accurate to say that "Form follows failure", and to see the inventor primarily as a critic. Anyway, he used the analogy about something else, but it seems to me that it works well here.
Well all know that the Titanic was an unsinkable ship that sank on its maiden voyage. But suppose it hadn’t? Suppose it had made it to New York? Then a whole bunch of other ships would have been designed the same way, and then when one of them eventually did sink we would be really shocked and we spend much of our time discussing how to spot icebergs and refining the Captain’s evacuation plan, legislating for better lifeboats and praising the band for playing on as the ship goes down. No-one would think: wait a minute, perhaps ships shouldn’t be built this way if their purpose is to traverse the North Atlantic.
Incidentally, while we’re thinking about transtlantic things, I thought it was rather nice of Her Majesties subjects in Canada to show their support for the mother country by adding a security flaw to the Passport Canada website to give easy access to the personal information (birth certificate, driver’s license, dates of birth, social insurance numbers) of passport applicants.
What has happened at HMRC and elsewhere (and now the data losses seem to be coming thick and fast). The Titanic that is the government’s only strategy for managing anything (ie, build a big database and put everything in it) has hit the iceberg that is humanity.
These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]