The story last week that someone had left a secret folder of documents on a train - which were then given to the BBC brought back memories for me. Shortly after my wife and I had moved into our first house, she brought home a brown paper envelope she had found on a train. In it were some legal papers which related to a celebrity (one we didn't like much). There was nothing deeply personal in them but it was an interesting bit of gossip, so I suggested she ring a couple of newspapers and one of them bought the story and ran it the next day. It paid for our patio. I suspect if the traveller got anything for the papers they found it was more than the price of a few dozen paving slabs.
Just through on my News feed, is the story that "A personal computer holding sensitive documents relating to defence and extremism has been stolen from Hazel Blears' constituency office in Salford." I say the same thing to customers over and over again. Computers get lost, they get stolen. Vista makes it easy with Bitlocker. If Vista isn't your plans, then do it with something else. If you don't use full volume protection and you have "secret" data on them you know what is coming. Interestingly whilst this story of a stolen laptop made the news it has a totally different tone because it was encrypted. It sounds like Hazel Blears' PC was not.
According to the BBC. "The machine contained a combination of constituency and government information which should not have been held on it.". Oh deary, deary me. I'm not going to venture in opinions of Hazel Blears... except to say I would laugh - a lot - if the "documents on defence and extremism" led to of her facing court for possessing "a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". Sadly the Police only have 28 days to hold her while they find out if a charge can be brought.
If I were Hazel I'd stay out of the boss's way for a bit. He was saying only at lunch time that we really didn't need principles like habeas corpus any more and we could trust the government with an ID cards database, Facial recognition CCTV, Automated Number Plate cameras, a DNA database etc etc. ... a state of affairs which a colleague who grew up in the old East Germany called "Beyond the dreams of the Stasi". No party politics here: no government can be trusted with that data, whether the person in charge is named Erich, Gordon, or Dave.