Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bank of Ireland scandal

There have been a few pretty good articles/columns on the Bank of Ireland and the 'lost laptops', but there's a part of me that thinks that the media, generally, has bought the bank's spin that (a) this isn't really a big deal and (b) they've kept a close watch on the accounts. I was watching RTE's report last night and it wasn't bad, but the reporter seemed to think that somehow the bank's reassurances were somehow an effective counter to the fact that the bank has lost the personal details of thousands of people.

The new information that came to light yesterday - that the number of affected people is now over 30,000 and the number of branches involved has quadrupled - indicates that the bank doesn't have a clue. But rest assured they're "monitoring the accounts".

Well, are all the accounts in the records stolen Bank of Ireland accounts? The reason I ask is because some of the lost data referred to life insurance customers and I can well imagine a situation where a Bank of Ireland life insurance customer's banking details with another bank might be in the lost data. Did the Bank of Ireland notify the other banks? Some of the people are not even customers, but only people looking for quotes. Are they monitoring those people's financial records too?

This is a massive scandal. First the bank clearly doesn't give a damn about their customers or potential customers given the systematic indifference to the safety of their customers' personal data. If they cared there would be a culture of concern with regards to the information on those laptops.

I get the feeling that the regulators are very concerned, but from what I've seen and heard they don't have the personality or public relations capacity to explain to the media how serious a breach this is. And, as I said, the media doesn't seem to get it. This story should be front page, but it's on neither the Irish Independent's nor Irish Times's front page.

I understand how 'compelling' this Austrian story is for the newsrooms, but it's sensationalist trivia compared with the Bank of Ireland story.