The first messenger that gave notice of Lucullus's coming ...

... was so far from pleasing Tigranes that he had his head cut off for his pains. History tells us that his name was Ira Bailey

By now Pundit readers, being such well informed individuals who are uniformly of above average intelligence, will be familiar with the massive information security breach at WINZ. For the outliers amongst you who have just emerged from a week-long wananga in te Urewera and aren't up to date, you can read Keith Ng's expose on the issue here. (And if you like Keith's work, you can help fund more of it here.)

Keith's post has had the immediate effect of throwing the Government into full damage control mode. Not only have the offending WINZ kiosks been taken off-line while the Ministry of Social Development has "hired an independent security expert to carry out its own investigation", but John Key has announced "a Government-wide review of online information" by the Government Chief Information Officer. 

However, Ng's post has also sparked another, less savoury response. As he recounts here, quite quickly after his story went on-line a journalist contacted him with the name of the individual who first discovered the WINZ security flaw. And it turns out that that individual was Ira Bailey ... who has something of a history of his own.

Of course, the information as to who first uncovered the security flaws could only have come from within WINZ itself. And it seems pretty clear (at least, to me) that that information got shuttled out to a journalist as quickly as possible as a diversion tactic from the actual substance of the story - that the personal (and in some cases very personal) information of many tens-of-thousands of individuals was left lying around in a place where literally anyone could get to it. 

Then once the story had been placed with the MSM, the usual suspects in the blogosphere could be relied upon to pile on top with their own take on the issue. So David Farrar has lots of questions about Bailey's actions and motives (without really saying what they are or why they matter), Keeping Stock "reckon(s) that the most important question is this one; is there more to this whole story than Keith Ng has revealed so far, such as an underlying political agenda, and a concerted attack on the credibility of the Ministry of Social Development, its Minister and the Government?", while another blogger who need not be named and requires no links starts concocting all the sorts of conspiracy theories that you'd expect him to. 

Now, unlike some, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't think there's a VRWC out there that liases on a daily basis in order to plan the best way to pull the wool over the eyes of Kiwis so that they can be raped and pillaged at will. This site isn't No Right Turn, after all (I joke! I joke!).

But I do think that there are political communication advisors who specialise in creating strategies to frame narratives in ways that best suit the interests of those they work for. And I also think that it is natural for partisans (on the left and the right) to look at an issue and see it in ways that best fit their pre-existing worldviews. I mean, clearly the fact that this information breach has occured is very bad news for a National Government that's already been through the wringer on just this issue in relation to ACC. So when it turns out that the breach was discovered by a "terrorist" who then "asked for money" before passing the information on to Keith Ng ... well, isn't that a far better angle to view the story from?

Of course, even if it had been Stewart Murray Wilson who found out about the breach and demanded a full pardon in exchage for reporting it, the failure to protect the information would still be as grevious. But this story isn't about what has happened. It's about how the story about what has happened gets told.

[Update: And here we go ... with John Key apparently telling TV3 that:

Obviously it would've been better if the individual involved had actually told the government and not tried to charge the government some sort of fee. But he didn't, and goodness knows what he did with the blogger, I don't know if he gave it [the information] to him or sold it to him.

Better how? In some sort of personal ethical sense? Which matters ... why? Because if it is wrong for people to only provide socially useful information in exchange for cash, why do the Police make such offers all the time?]