Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Peter Black calls for better data guidelines

On BBC-Wales "AM, PM" today, Peter Black AM responded to a survey by BBC-Wales by calling for guidelines on how to look after personal data, including both public service and commercial data holders. Regular readers of his blog will have seen his recent report of another mistake by the police.

In the interview, Betsan put it to him that mistakes were inevitable, with the implication that we had better just get used to it. The conclusion that Peter drew was that this was all the more reason for government to abandon its national database scheme.

I think we need to change our attitude to digital data. It may seem weird to compare them to common cold germs, but there are parallels. Viruses are too small to be seen, are easily copied and usually cause damage when in the wrong place. We now discourage cold and influenza sufferers from struggling into work when they are still shedding germs. We can't see the bugs, but we know they are there, and we know their power. We need to instil into people working with personal data that they can wreak great damage in the wrong hands. A lost memory device can be as dangerous as a discarded tissue, or a dirty finger in a school kitchen.

No comments: