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Data Loss Redux

We've had plenty of serious data losses in the U.S., including the incident in 2006 when a computer with data on 26.5 million living and dead veterans went missing because a Veterans' Administration employee's laptop was stolen from his home.

But in terms of scale and national horror, even this doesn't come close to what was disclosed in London this week where the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling told parliament that computer discs with records on all families with children had been lost in the mail. We're talking about 25 million people, nearly half the population of Britain and the names, addresses and medical insurance data of nearly every child in the country. The discs also included banking information for the children's parents. While there is no evidence that these discs have fallen into the wrong hands, the implications are staggering from a financial and identity theft standpoint and – more important – the safety of Britain's children.

Britain has long retired its guillotine, but heads have already rolled, including that of the tax agency chief whose employee was responsible for the loss.

You can read more> and get an insiders' perspective by listening to my interview with British technology safety expert, John Carr.