I've written before about the Iron Law of Data Collection, the idea that no matter the rationale given for the collection of the data or the promises made about its confidentiality there will always be mission creep that finds new uses for the data and its eventual abuse. The two links above give examples of it in action. Now, we have another example, this time from the UK.
In a sense, this is the worst betrayal of those I've written about. The government promises you that they have to collect your financial information in order to administer the income tax system but that that information is held in absolute confidence and will not be released outside the government1. That promise is necessary to prevent large scale cheating and resistance to the HMRC.
The UK case is particularly troubling because the reason for breaking the promise is so venal. The HMRC is proposing the sell the information to “third parties,” including private companies. As one of the commenters said, “…it has proven there is still life in the 19th century adage 'the political classes would sell their own grandmothers for a shilling'.”
Sadly, the Iron Law marches on. Here's the next example of its application.
In the US, at least, the release of tax payer information is a serious felony. I assume the same is true in the UK. Of course, even in the US there's been recent abuse for political reasons. One more reason, if you needed it, not to trust their high sounding promises.