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Tax site back online after security breach

Inland Revenue promises self-assessment service is now safe

The Inland Revenue's online self-assessment service is up and running again after a serious security scare meant the site had to shut down.

At the end of May, visitors to the IR's site were able to view the personal information of other people who had filed tax forms online. The self-assessment section was suspended on 27 May.

"Confidentiality of customer information is of paramount importance to us and that is why we withdrew the service pending a thorough investigation," said a statement posted on its website.

But major hiccups like this seriously delay the plan to get all government services online by 2005.

"It will take people time to trust this service again, although we are aware the breach only affected a tiny proportion of users. Hopefully now they have resolved these problems," said a spokesman at the Association of Tax Technicians.

This is not the first time a 'trusted' site has had privacy glitches: the Consumers Association released private information, including credit card details, on its website in June last year.

"These sorts of things are unfortunate and we have taken great steps to ensure it does not happen again. It is vital that sites with these problems notify their customers straight away to prevent panic," said a spokesman for The Consumers Association.

The IR notified all users immediately, even though only the details of 47 of the 27,967 people who had used the site since April were compromised.

The IR is now writing to all those people who may have been involved to apologise and offer an explanation as to what happened.

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