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Government Agrees To Indian Move For British Driver Data

The government agrees to allow IBM to undertake a ‘Passage to India’ for personal data belonging to British drivers

On by Tom Jowitt 7

The government has apparently ‘secretly agreed’ with IBM that sensitive personal data on all 43 million drivers in the UK can be accessed offshore in India.

The data move is part of cost cutting measure by IBM, not the Government, according to a report in the Observer.

Controversial Move

The move was revealed after IBM, which runs the congestion charge zone for Transport for London (TfL), lobbied for a change to allow the data to be moved to a cheaper storage location.

The move is controversial because sensitive data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), including credit card details, home addresses and registration plates, will now be moved outside the UK.

The government apparently approved the decision following a review by ministers.

However it seems the decision was not publicly announced, and the Observer cited union sources from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union as saying that it appears neither IBM nor DVLA were planning to tell anyone about it.

The government reportedly approved the decision despite an IBM risk assessment that warned of the risk to the security of sensitive data. It was also feared the changes would reduce the ability of staff to quickly deal with problems in congestion zone systems.

The move of British driver data to India is expected to be completed by 18 May.

Jobs threat

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka responded to the news by calling for an immediate halt to a consultation on whether to close the driving agency’s 39 registration and enforcement offices in the UK.

“We’re doubtful it’s a mere coincidence that this comes as the DVLA is planning to close these offices and we fear it could pave the way for further privatisation and offshoring of DVLA services,” said Serwotka. “It therefore casts the public consultation on these proposals in a whole new light as it appears neither IBM nor DVLA were planning to tell anyone about it. The government should call an immediate halt to the DVLA’s plans and ministers should explain to MPs and the public exactly what has happened and what are the implications.

“As well as the threat to people’s jobs and livelihoods, there are serious questions about the security of the personal information the company holds and has access to, and if the transport secretary has indeed signed this off we need to know why, given it appears to be at odds with the commitment his cabinet colleague Chris Grayling gave to parliament,” Serwotka said.

Plans to close the 39 offices, threatening 1,200 jobs, were announced by the DVLA in the run-up to Christmas.

The PCS also pointed to the fact that in November 2011, the union fought off an attempt by HP to offshore sensitive data it held about people entitled to benefits and pensions payments.

Labour MP John McDonnell was also quoted as saying the decision to offshore this sensitive information database will not only cost jobs, but it will also open up vast opportunities for fraud.

Last week the Lloyds Trade Union (LTU) branded the decision by Lloyds Banking Group to offshore 503 IT jobs to India as ‘disgraceful.’

Tom Jowitt
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7 replies to Government Agrees To Indian Move For British Driver Data

  • On March 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm by Arthur Pendragon

    Perhaps questions should be asked of Channel 4′s recently appointed ‘Job Ambassador’, IBM UK Director Stephen Leonard, whom they proudly tout as being ‘responsible for a workforce of 20,000′ . Well yes thats technically what it currently stands at roughly, but not for long with Stephen at the helm, he will soon decimate those figures, indeed already has due to his disastrous short term business strategies.

    One of the proud claims of the C4 Jobs Ambassador scheme is to try and create 2.5 million jobs in the Private Sector, to replace those being lost in the Public Sector. Stephen seems to have taken this a bit too literally though, as he is creating jobs, unfortunately not here but in India & China. He has certainly taken the loss of Public Sector jobs to heart. The rescinding fully of the DVLA rules on sensitive data is good news for TfL, DVLA bosses and the Government as it paves the way for the full transfer of the DVLA IT contracts run by Fujitsu and others to be Offshored to wherever is cheapest, and hang the levels of service.

    His Global Services Teams disastrous contract with TfL means that TfL are making a very tidy profit from IBM in fines alone, due to the abysmal level of service. This is due to a system thats been rushed in, without enough development budget and then the System Development and 2nd line support being mostly Offshored to India from when the Project went live in Nov 2009. Dont kid yourself here people, your data is already being looked at by people in India, and despite the claims of Security Integrity from TfL and DVLA they frankly would not know their rear end from their elbows, and have proven that in their so called audits. The fact that IBM know about these holes and choose to turn a blind eye compunds the incompetancy of TfL and DVLA.

    The other by product of this mass exodus of services means that right when the prestige of London, TfL, The Mayor and the country as a whole is on show for the Olympics your LEZ and CC service will be just have been handed over to an Offshore Team who have shown themselves to be only slightly less than appalling for the entire time they have so far run small parts of the system so far. Believe me it wont be working for large parts of the Summer. Dont think that means though that you will get away with not paying – far from it! The amount of people wrongly charged is staggering, due to the fact the system is so badly configured many people are still be wrongly charged, or cant pay because of payment outages so incur charges. It is absolutely scandalous – if I actually drove in London or were a Haulier operating there I would be up in arms.

    Finally dont let IBM & TfL soft soap you this will all be handed over smoothly. A couple of months ago IBM and O2 agreed that the running of O2′s contract be fully Offshored to the same team in India, despite the debacle of the Iphone3 registration which was mainly down to poor Offshore coding and testing aligned with weak UK Management. So what happened last week in the first week of live running by the Offshore Teams? They brought up a Service incorrectly, despite being allegedly signed off to do it, and the subsequent 7 hour outage in service attracted so much fines from O2 that it negated the whole cost saving of Offshoring for a year in one fell swoop. If it wasnt our company profits and jobs going down the pan as a result we would laugh, but frankly its criminal and highlights the incompetancy and spineless nature of the Directors of IBM, a trait thats all too apparent through TfL Management (As poor an organisation in their level of competancy as you could find), DVLA Boss’s and indeed the politicians from the Mayors Office to Westminster who sanction this, despite professing to want to support British jobs in this our hour of need.

  • On March 20, 2012 at 10:47 am by Ruth Jones

    I wonder how many people out there realise that the Treasury that holds Government funds i.e. our money, the taxes that we have paid, now banks with a foreign owned bank. Also that this Government is planning to privatise the Revenue.

    You don’t need to be strongly left wing to find either of these scenarios very disturbing. Having read the report above about what is happening to DVLA – it brings everything that I fear that much closer and it sends shivers down my spine – seriously.

    How much more corporate greed do we have to witness before politicians get it into their thick skulls that privatising public services and public funds and outsourcing to other countries is a short term quick fix with a long term ever increasing cost and the only people who benefit are the fat cats at the top of the heap. It does not improve the quality of service given, it does the exact opposite.

    The last time a Tory government[sorry, Conservative - they are very sensitive about labels]started dismantling the fabric of this country, there was no going back. DC and his cronies look like finishing the job. There is no hope for the ‘have nots’ at the bottom because what used to be a very
    broad ‘middle’ group – meaning everyone with a job, probably earning less than £50,000 per annum, is being slowly pushed down into the sector of society that constantly struggles to make ends meet.

    Well done chaps, you are killing my country.

    The antics of these Tories [they hate being called that]

    • On March 21, 2012 at 11:03 am by Adrian Wood

      I don’t even believe there are short term savings from off-shoring UK citizen data.

      The loss of UK jobs to be replaced by jobs overseas can decimate local economies. It means that there are increased costs in welfare benefits, loss of tax revenue, reduced spending just when our economy is struggling and needs spending to increase. Add to that other knock-on effect such as an increased NHS bill (those out of work call on the NHS more and will of course no longer have private health insurance to reduce the impact) etc etc – and you’ll see that whilst the DVLA may see a short term gain to their budgets (so those at the top look like they are performing well) that is at a much greater cost to the UK citizens and taxpayers.

      Of course the gains are short-term too – companies employing people in off-shore locations such as India are suffering spiralling wage increase, so ultimately have to charge more for their servcies – and recent examples such as using prison in-mates to do the work offshore is hardly an answer.

      The only real gain is to the chief executives and directors of the companies involved – who get fat payouts as a direct result of making UK people unemployed.

      My biggest worry about this news is that it represents the tip of the iceberg. Once a company like IBM is allowed to process citizen data overseas (for the first time), then its a green light for the whole of the UK IT industry (which employees a large proportion of our population) to do the same. So ALL our citizen data will end up accessible overseas, hundreds of thousands of IT and public sector jobs will be lost and the UK will economically go down the drain.

      We have already sold off our manufacturing industry overseas and large parts of our service industry via call-centres – this government seems to be hell bent on doing the same for our remaining industries.

  • On April 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm by Edward Wheatley

    Yet another example of this government failing in its basic duty towards British Citizens – sadly no surprise there

    And even more sadly no surprise that th media – like the BBC – failed to make a fuss.

    Perhaps if those concerned had been, black, ethnic minorities, or gypsies we might have heard a great deal more about it

  • On June 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm by jenny uk

    Wonder how long it will be before all our information has been sold to the highest bidder, and anyone will be getting uk driving licenses

  • On July 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm by Ram

    So what if the drivers data is stored in India? Is India not a commonwealth country and a friendly country as well? Will they not co-operate with the UK on law enforcement?

  • On July 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm by John

    There is something very important missing here. IBM was already carrying out most of the DVLA processes in India. But with the data in the UK, several people in the UK were just looking up data, selecting part of it and sending it to India. So in Essence giving IBM the data will not offshore jobs that are already offshore. It will just remove data parsing UK jobs. If we want to pay people in the UK it would be better to take the same money and give it to education and police versus having someone look up my driving records and cut and paste them to an IBM help desk.

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