Feeds

Data Protection Act 'is not enforced'

Private sector losing more data than gov?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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." ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?