I’m beginning to think there’s a bit of cronyism in the Boris Johnson government. The inexplicable appointment of Tony Abbott as trade advisor is not the first suspect announcement.
In May of this year, Dido Harding was put in charge of the government’s new track, test, and trace programme. Tracking and tracing is an important tool in fighting the virus and involves contacting people who have tested positive and asking them to retrace their steps with the aim of getting the contact details of everyone they’ve been in contact with in the days leading up to their positive test. The idea is that those contacts must then also self-isolate to suppress the spread of the virus. People who do this job are handling lots of sensitive information about NHS patients.
I go running everyday and listen to the Stories of our times podcast which is very good. This week there was a story on Dido Harding. From 2010 to 2017 she was CEO of TalkTalk and was CEO at the time it was subject to a significant cyber attack and data breach. In an interview, Dido Harding was asked whether the customer data that had been stolen was encrypted to which she replied that she did not know.
I work for a tech company in a lowly position and I know 100% that all our user data is fully encrypted both in storage and transit. It’s unacceptable for a CEO of a tech company not to know whether this is the case for their customers and does not bode well for a track and trace programme that depends entirely on people trusting that they can hand over sensitive information. Why was she appointed to the job? She does not have a health background either but she and Matt Hancock both like horse racing.
I’ve worked for two brilliant and successful tech companies. Both companies hire staff on merit. We don’t hire mates or people we went to university or the horse races with. Our mates are certainly free to apply for jobs but they must go through the same rigorous hiring process as everyone else. Is it too much to ask for the government to do the same?