Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Governments and databases... a bad mix?

3 December 2019

Apparently the semi-automatic gun buy-back database had a bit of a security problem.

Well a huge security problem actually.

It seems as if it was a trivial task for anyone to interrogate that database and come up with the details in it, effectively disclosing names, bank account numbers and the details of guns surrendered.

That's disappointing, but not surprising.

You can read more about this fiasco if you wish.

Of course this is not the first time that a trusted government organisation has overseen the collection and indexing of data in an insecure manner or incompetent manner.

The list of breaches is long and varied, covering most all of NZ's government departments (even WINZ) and potentially affecting huge numbers of innocent Kiwis.

Of course if you or I were to violate a person's privacy the chances are that we'd get a whacking great fine (or worse) for our misdeeds but, because of the "two sets of rules" principle that applies, if it's incompetence, negligence or malice on the part of "those who must be obeyed" then there are no consequences for the offenders.

"Do as we say, not as we do", the anthem of hypocrites, politicians and bureaucrats, rings through the halls of power once again.

So long as we instantly forgive such breaches, there is little or no incentive for those responsible to actually lift their game, is there?

Meanwhile, in the UK, a database and registration scheme, created in the naive belief that it will suddenly make the use of recreational drones safer, should perhaps come under similar scrutiny.

The owners and operators of drones with a weight of more than 250g had until the 29th of November to register themselves and pay a fee of nine-quid, or face a 1,000 quid fine.

Naturally, all those who opted to register, left this action until the last minute. However, when they rolled up to sit a simple online test, hand over their cash and go on the offender's register -- the system crashed into a screaming heap of "service not available" screens.

The kicker is that the cost of setting up this database was (wait for it)... over four million pounds... that's almost NZ$8m.

Seriously... they had eight million bucks to build a simple database and web-based front end and they couldn't even get it right?

What's more, it's not as if the numbers were extreme. Apparently, in the month or so that the system has been up, around 40,000 people have now registered (a tiny percentage of the number estimated by the UK government to own drones).

What is it about governments and IT systems?

And who the hell got the contract to build an $8m system that fell at the first hurdle?

It gets better... they're also expecting that the operating costs of this database will be another $8m a year. Seriously, $8m a year for a database that will have (at best) 100K entries. A first-year CS student could knock something like this up in an afternoon!

But hey... when it's taxpayers' money sucked from the bottomless-pit of the public's pockets and when there are no repercussions for shoddy work, who really gives a damn -- aside from those who are over-taxed, over-regulated and inconvenienced by all this?

I guess egalitarianism doesn't extend to consequences, what a shame.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column

Rank This Aardvark Page


Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines



The EZ Battery Reconditioning scam

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam


Recent Columns

This can not be right
Society has laws for good reason...

EV Battery trailers - so obvious eh?
Electric vehicles are the future (have I mentioned that before?)...

Soon is the winter of our..
Coronavirus is still a thing...

Why I can't compete with China
The other day I made a video that has created a bit of a stir...

The great teleworking fail
Teleworking has been possible for decades now...

Doom and gloom prevail
If your only source of news and information is the mainstream media you're probably very depressed right now...

Are you young-old or old-young?
How old do you have to be to qualify as "old" these days?...

Is this getting out of hand?
A week or two ago, Kiwis were wowed by a string of satellites that swept across the evening skies like a row of glistening pearls...

A powerful statement
Today I am going to share a video with you...

From bad to worse?
Last week I published a column in which I suggested that the outbreak of Coronavirus in China could have very far-reaching effects on the global economy...

They don't make them like this any more
Over the years I have had a lot of electronics gear...