Feeds

Data Protection Act 'is not enforced'

Private sector losing more data than gov?

High performance access to file storage

A subject-matter expert has said that "there is effectively no enforcement" of the Data Protection Act, and suggested that corporate data losses or breaches are even more prevalent than in the public sector.

Andrew Sharpe, partner at London law firm Charles Russell, practices in the field of technology and telecoms law. He also lectures and consults, in particular for the government. In addition to his legal qualifications, he holds a degree in electronic engineering and spent several years working on data and communications in the RAF. Yesterday evening, he was a panel member for a debate entitled "Privacy in the Digital World", hosted by the government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

During the debate, Sharpe said that companies were probably losing at least as much confidential and personal data as the government was.

"The public sector is leading the charge [in data loss]" he said. "But just because people are in the private sector, does that mean they never lose a memory stick? I think not."

Sharpe argued that there was no incentive for a corporation to disclose that it had lost people's data, and so generally such news doesn't become public. "Usually they just hope that memory stick just stays there, down the drain in the carpark or wherever they dropped it," he said.

Even where a UK firm was caught bang to rights losing or revealing data there was little comeback, said Sharpe.

"In other fields, companies go to lawyers to make sure they are complying with the law," he said. "Nobody comes to me to make sure they're complying with the Data Protection Act, because there's no downside for them if they screw up.

"If somebody loses your data, or leaks it, or gives it to someone you didn't want to have it, don't come to me - don't expect the law to do anything... there is effectively no enforcement."

Other panel members included Tom Ilube of online-ID security firm Garlik, semantic-web prof Dame Wendy Hall and Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group. All agreed that digital privacy was a hot-button issue, and suggested that in many countries there was effectively no debate. The fact that there is a debate in the UK was seen by Ilube, for one, as a "major opportunity" for the UK - naturally enough he thought that privacy combined with useful online access could be big business, as that's what his firm sells.

Even so, nobody seemed to have a firm idea of the right balance between information being useable and accessible and people's rights to privacy - or even to make a mistake without having it recorded for all time. The strategy of "digital nudism" - simply exposing all your information on the web and not worrying about it - was widely rubbished, but the assembled experts also gave it as their opinion that some online/net presence and conspicuousness was unavoidable.

"People ask me sometimes, how do I go off the grid, disappear?" said Ilube.

"You don't." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.