Home Office glitch sees Y2K bug strike 20-years later

101-year-old man's date of birth interpreted as 2019 by Settled Status app

A glitch on the Home Office's Settled Status app reportedly identified a 101-year-old man as a one-year-old in what appears to be a consequence of a quick fix to the Millenium bug.

Centenarian Giovanni Palmiero was asked to get his parents to confirm his age when applying for settled status at an advice centre in Islington, North London, according to The Guardian.

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Mr Palmiero has lived London since 1966 and needed to use the Home Office's app to continue living in the UK post-Brexit, but it misinterpreted his date of birth, reading it as 2019, instead of 1919. 

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"I immediately noticed that something was wrong because when I scanned in his passport, it imported his biometric data not as 1919 but as 2019. It then skipped the face recognition section which is what it does with under-12s," Dimitri Scarlato, an activist with the campaign group The 3 Million told The Guardian.

IT Pro has approached the Home Office for comment, but did not receive a reply at the time of writing. 

However, this another example of the Millenium bug, affecting computer systems 20-years later. Thanks to the efforts of many developers, Y2K was mostly avoided long before the year 2000. In the 60s, software engineers and developers only had a limited amount of memory to work with and decided to get around this by only using the two-digit entries for dates. 

The problem that they didn't predict was that most of these codes and systems would still be used 40 and 50 years later. So at the turn of the century, the dates would revert back to 1900 and not 2000, because the systems only had the last two digits to work with.

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Not all codes could be fully rewritten, often for financial reasons, so some numbers were simply flipped using a method called 'date windowing'. This was essentially a fix to push the problem forward 20 years and it's reported that 80% of fixes in 1999 used this method. 

As a result, a fresh wave of Y2K based glitches has cropped up over the first two months of 2020, such as parking meters in New York City refusing to accept credit cards and the WWE 2K20 video game which was rendered unplayable due to the glitch. 

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