Automated password generation of offensive expressions

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers users an online ‘Choose and Book’ service for making appointments. When a user creates an account, the software automatically creates a two word passphrase – but not everyone is happy. Professor Simon de Lusignan MSc MD FBCS CITP FRCGP for instance (currently Professor of Primary Care & Clinical Informatics / Chair in Health Care Management / Head of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Surrey, UK) cites an example provided by a patient :

“The two words generated for this patient were ‘Poppy’ and ‘Cock’. The patients felt this was offensive and complained. ‘Poppycock’ means nonsense or rubbish and is generally used as an expletive. It was first recorded in the mid-19th century in America. It was thought by some to derive from the Dutch word for soft faeces ‘PappekaK’ though the authenticity of this is challenged. Instead it is more likely to be derived from the Dutch expression: ‘Zo fijn als gemalen poppekak’, – used to imply excessive religious zeal; but literally translated meaning ‘As fine as powdered doll s**t’

See: Automated password generation of offensive expressions: Choose and Book and Poppycock Informatics in Primary Care,16:241–2

Note: The professor’s observation is now ten years old. Is the Choose and Book service still generating inappropriate passphrases? If you have been assigned one, please get in touch.

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