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The Joint Committee on Human Rights, made up of MPs and Lords, today criticised "the Government's persistent failure to take data protection safeguards sufficiently seriously". The Committee accepted that data sharing could be useful and can even enhance human rights protection, but called for a fundamental change in the way …

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This'll make it all better

"There is insufficient respect for the right to respect for personal data in the public sector."

I know what my response would be to anyone who uttered that. Still, I expect it'll do the trick with the govies and everything will be better from now on.

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Setting standards

These figures seem to be small, compared to databases I know, presumably because the processes for detection, reporting and correction across databases are a bottleneck.

I'd like to see something like a yearly quantitative spot check against standards like

Typing errors <10%

Duplicates <1%

Misclassification <1%

Malfeasance <0.01%

You can debate higher standards for special cases till the cows come home - an ID database should have less misclassification, for instance.

And audits of sources by similar checks before each new use would solve contamination problems within a few years.

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Stop

Error?

"Four per cent had made requests under the DPA...But of the percentage who had requested information 15 per cent found wrong information which was corrected...Assuming this figure is reflected across the country, then four per cent of the population has had wrong information about themselves corrected."

I may be missing something here (I blame the pub), but I don't think (4%*15%)==4%...

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RW
Paris Hilton

Whitehall's p.o.v.

The bureaucrats don't see anything at all wrong with their carelessness with personal data.

From their p.o.v. it's the news getting out that's the problem.

You can expect another draconian NuLabour law classifying news of data-loss snafus as official secrets and muzzling of reports of the many further losses yet to happen.

"Openness and transparency" my eye!

Paris because she's the only icon with closed eyes; she sees no evil, therefore she speaks no evil: from the Whitehall p.o.v. the ideal news reporter.

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Bronze badge

Sleepwalking? The nightmare is real.

2004: "My anxiety is that we don’t sleepwalk into a surveillance society..." (http://www.statewatch.org/news/2004/aug/08uk-info-commissioner.htm)

2006: 'Wider use of private data planned' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/uk_politics/5342718.stm)

2007: 'Whitehall plan for huge database' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/uk_politics/6260153.stm)

2008: "nearly 800 separate bodies can ask to see some or all of it."

"over 250,000 requests for access to this [communications traffic] data were made in the first nine months of 2007, an appalling extension of the state's powers of surveillance..." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/technology/7226016.stm)

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Re: Error

The 4 per cent figure comes from 26 per cent who had searched for information - out of this group 15 per cent found errors, which gives us the 4 per cent... - the survey makes it clearer.

cheers

john

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Paris Hilton

it's a culture thing (like growing bacteria is a culture thing)

"serious cultural issues in failing to deal with private data properly"

From the bureaucrat POV it is "official" data - because they have it in their control, ergo the DPA does not apply to them.

The DPA "only" applies to us - the plebs - who, for some ridiculous reason beyond the wit of the bureaucrats to comprehend, actually think we have a "right" to peek at "official" information - how very dare we!

PH avatar cos we don't need to apply to anybody to sneak a peak at her private things.

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Cultural issue (like war)

The cultural issue is analogous to lethal warfare - the greater the distance between causes and effects, the less the agent's perception of responsibility in the act. "Fire and forget" as they say. The best amnesia (bearing in mind that more Vietnam vets subsequently took their own lives than were killed in the line of duty - this example is not unique BTW) is where there is no necessity for amnesia at all.

In the case of govt data protection, the fact that civil servants are remote from the causes of their salaries means they are equally apt to "fire and forget" personal data. But most people have forgotten that taxation originated to pay for war - or more likely never learnt it at school in the first place.

As governments no longer see their role as a minimal one of providing defence but as providing benefits (maximally, in elaborate ways, to more and more of the electorate), the cultural issues in dealing with private data property are not going to change any time soon. You are not, of course, going to be allowed a democratic debate on the philosophy of politics.

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Pirate

There is no way for the government to secure our data

The fact of the matter is that if there is widespread access to any information of any value whatsoever it will be exploited by criminals. There are bent coppers and bent Police civilian workers selling information to, probably not even, the highest bidder but anyone who'll buy them a pint. I know because I've been a victim of this particularly insidious practice.

I only know what has happened to me because I became aware of whispers about me at a place I last worked. I then checked my details with the Police under a DPA request and they very helpfully informed me that I had a conviction for possession of drugs which came as a complete surprise to me. I'm still in the process of trying to sort out this mess and I've been finding employment hard to come by as a result too.

If The Register wants to confirm this with me I can arrange to let them see the letter sent to me by the Police telling me of my "conviction" and the one sent a few days later apoligizing for mixing my details up with someone with the same name and place of birth. Yeah right.

I wouldn't trust the goverment with the knowledge of the colour of underpants I'm currently wearing.

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What's the matter El Reg?

Too chicken to publish my comment?

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@AC

Not saying much if you're too chicken to put your name against it, is it?

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You mean these people are not in the pay of some foreign government ???

I thought the whole idea is to make the data available to any and all foreign governments (and criminal organisations) who want to know about the great population of the UK. And MI5's role is to distribute laptops full of "security data" in such a manner as to qualify for James Bond movies !!

The Carry-on team can't beat the way these guys work(??) !!

@There is no way for the government to secure our data - isn't the colour of your current underpants BROWN ??

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Paris Hilton

insufficient respect

...couldn't put it better myself.

Dear anon.cow (18:10 GMT) - regarding "too chicken"... it is wonderful to see evidence that it is not only me who is occasionally silenced by "the ubercensors".

oh, and on the "percentages".... did anyone check to see if the "26 per cent who had searched for information" were typical of the population as a whole or if they represented an atypical group such as "25-40 years old", or "people who thought there might be a problem" or what? I only ask, because if the source of the statistic is not known and fully understood, the figures generated are as useful as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

I only add that in in case there are politicians reading... El Reg staff and readers are not so impeccably mindless. Come to think of it, dear Paris has a more astute brain.

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