Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A couple from the new Private Eye, out now...

The director's cut...

So how, exactly, did the Daily Mail’s publishers manage to lose a laptop containing the personal and bank details of “a large number” of their current and former employees (only those who have joined the company in the last two months are guaranteed safe) after several months spent denouncing various government departments for “criminal carelessness”, “fathomless and inexhaustible incompetence” and “quite inexcusable sloppiness” over similar cock-ups?

The laptop was, apparently, “stolen from an employee away from company premises” – just like the MoD laptop which was taken from a car in Birmingham in January, in what the Mail described as a “fiasco” which would provide “a treasure trove” to criminals. “You could not make it up,” the paper stormed at the time. “The blunders have led to a ban on Whitehall staff taking laptops out of their offices…Incredibly, the information was not encrypted - meaning it would be easily accessed by anyone with basic technological knowledge.” And what of the data on the Mail’s own laptop? “The PC was password protected, but the data file itself was not,” admitted a shamefaced Simon Dyson, the Associated Newspapers group finance director, this week. And why not? “In this particular case, the employee in question was unaware that the data was on the laptop before leaving the building and for this reason the data was not held in an encrypted state.”

Because no one at Associated had any idea of what was on the computer, managers delayed more than a week before telling anyone their bank accounts and identities were at risk. By a pleasing coincidence, the Mail managed in the meantime to run yet another article castigating Gordon Brown for “the Government's woefully inadequate care of sensitive data.”

And from the TV pages:

In the last Eye we suggested that the Wuaorani tribe of Ecuador, hosts of one of the episodes of BBC2’s Tribal Wives, had been featured on television so often that “it would be no surprise if the elders had DVD adverts painted on their foreheads in woad.” While this turned out not quite to be the case, since the programme was broadcast the Eye has been provided with some interesting information about Penti, the tribal leader who featured in the programme alongside his wife and seven children – namely, his email address, which outsiders have long been invited to use “to find out how you can help or to express interest in visiting the Wuaorani.”

And what of the Kuna, another tribe which featured in the series which promises to transport participants to “some of the most remote places on earth” to experience life alongside the locals “in a way that has never been explored before”? Well, they recommend booking flights and hotels in their homeland, the Archipielago de San Blas, as far ahead as possible, though the Lonely Planet guide to Panama, which features an entire chapter devoted to the commercially-astute tribe, points out that “most hotels offer complete packages, where a fixed price gets you a room, three meals a day and boat rides to neighbouring islands for swimming, snorkeling and lunching on the beach.” Since the 1960s Air Panama has been offering a daily flight to the area, stopping at six of the inhabited islands, while rival operator Aeroperlas currently runs three per day. There is a tourist visitation fee of $3-$5 dollars per island, and it is best to stock up on cash before departure as there are no ATMs in the area (although coin-operated telephones for domestic and international calls are apparently plentiful).

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