Igovt hates my answers

I signed up to the Igovt site for the New Zealand Government today, allowing citizens a single log-on for e-government services (such as the Companies’ Office, where we have to file annual returns). In case you forget your password, you can choose from a variety of security questions they can ask you.
   The following examples are not what I wound up using, because on both occasions, Igovt would not allow the answer.
   ‘What was the primary school you attended the most?’ was the first question. I faithfully put, ‘St Mark’s Church School’. The site returned: ‘Answer is invalid.’
   The cheeky part of me thought, that since this was a site run by the state, only state schools were permitted.

Igovt doesn't like my answer

   I tried another question. ‘What was your father’s place of birth?’
   I entered, ‘Taishan, China’. The site returned: ‘Answer is invalid.’

Igovt doesn't like my answer

   Now, I’m pretty sure that I know better than the New Zealand Government just where my Dad was born.
   Or, I thought, maybe they don’t let people with foreign-born fathers register? That you have had to have been here for a couple of generations. This was part of the Johnny Foreigner policies that someone inside the Department of Internal Affairs implemented.
   Seriously, I think the website has a problem with anyone who punctuates: the apostrophe and the comma were too confusing for it. I’ve written to the DIA to tell them of these bugs and, meanwhile, I’ve opted for some other question on the list. The answer for that question, sadly, is more ambiguous than the precise ones I required for my original choices, but I was running out of options.
   On a more pleasant note, the Igovt website is very nicely designed, and the new interface for the Companies’ Office site is very attractive indeed. The facelift is long overdue, but I am very glad it’s come. Whomever did the redesign did a very good job.

Companies' Office website

Meanwhile, I read that some documents, which weren’t exactly top secret but accessible to thousands of American civil servants, have made it on to Wikileaks. Good.
   Sometimes greater transparency is all our world needs, and the difference between what we had rumoured and what Wikileaks has revealed is that the new stuff has the stamp of approval of the US Government. I really don’t see various world leaders feeling upset at their perceptions as recorded by people inside the US. Most national leaders, one hopes, are not dummies, who will be more than aware of where they stand with the US.
   Now, had the documents been about aliens and UFOs, I would get excited.

PS.: The Department of Internal Affairs confirms there is a punctuation bug. Helen Coffey of the DIA informs me, ‘This fault has been identified for the next release due in the second quarter of 2011.’ Good on the DIA for responding in a timely fashion and for being transparent about its website’s fault.—JY

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3 thoughts on “Igovt hates my answers

  1. Worse, these are hardly ‘security’ questions – which would require only you to know the answers. E.g. It is not hard to find out from your online writing that you went to St Marks, and father’s birthplace is for most NZers easily traceable through birth records which a public

  2. You’re so right, Gavin. I considered that it would be extremely easy to find out answers to all three just from clever Googling.

  3. in other words iGovt is nowhere near as secure as it thinks it is, someone who wanted to steal your identity could easily answer these questions if you’ve used truthful answers, I found creating my account to be a painful exercise for little value

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