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I may meander but I'm 'exploring', not lost

Dec 19, 2008

HMG loses two gizmos a week

In the past year, the British Government admits to having lost:
  • 53 computers
  • 36 BlackBerrys
  • 30 mobile phones
  • 4 memory sticks; and
  • 4 disc drives.
If we assume that the devices had just 1 Gb of data storage each (a low estimate for some I'm sure), that's 127 Gb of data gone walkies. Some of them were hopefully strongly encrypted - let's be generous and say half, bringing the exposure down to 63.5 Gb of unencrypted data. By my calculation, that's equivalent to a pile of printed papers more than 50 feet high:

The reported numbers of lost devices is certainly an underestimate, since (a) it's self reported by government officials; (b) it excludes the Ministry of Defense and Home Office who did not respond to the request for information; (c) government employees probably use, and lose, personal devices for official work; and (d) it excludes other formats e.g. lost CD/DVD ROMs and actual papers.

As to whether it is acceptable for Her Majesty's Government to lose at least 50 feet of printed papers per year, that depends on whether your privacy was compromised I guess.