Feeds

Surveying anonymity and the public good

Our survey shows researchers and the public disagree

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail have been stirring up shock and horror at the idea that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are planning to siphon off data from sources that include "visits to A&E departments, government surveys and the reporting of crimes to police" and place it on a "huge 'Lifestyle Database'".

Well: not quite. As the Mail later admits, "it will not be possible to identify individuals from the information on the database": but even that probably over-states the case. The database in question is an aggregated data system that El Reg was alerted to some months back.

We investigated it then and found it was little more than an online query tool designed to support the EHRC’s Equality Measurement Framework. The tool would allow researchers to pull down statistics on 10 domains of equality – such as life, health, productive activities, education, employment, etc. – broken down by group.

Although the Mail focusses on the fact that the database will attempt to hold data on sexual orientation and identity, a spokesman for the project told El Reg today that general reluctance to answer questions about sexuality meant that this tool would be most useful in respect of disability, gender and age.

So bearing in mind the caveats about identifiability expressed above, this base will contain no individual records and it is unlikely that any individual will be identifiable through it: however, data will be collected without direct consent.

In the end, there is no scandal here: just a mindset on the part of some officials that if the end is for the public good, then it doesn’t matter if the rules around data collection get slightly bent. That would appear to be joined, at the lower levels of government, by a poor understanding of the letter of the law when it comes to Data Protection. The same departments that are so obstructive when it comes to dishing out information are rather less well informed as to the scope of the Act when it comes to identifiability.

According to the Tories, they intend to shake up the lazy assumptions that public services are entitled to use our data just because they can, and require all such uses in future to be tested according to necessity. Whether anything will change – or whether the researchers will continue to win the day - remains to be seen. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.