Thursday 22 May 2014

Everyman and the data inspector

Everyman is dreaming of a future.

Data Inspector: Good morning, citizen. We have reason to believe you have data in this house.

Everyman: Who told you that?

DI: Someone who knows.

Everyman: It would be a strange house that didn’t have data in it, wouldn’t it?

DI: All the same, we have to act on reports received.

Everyman: At dawn?

DI: You heard us. We require entry to inspect the data on these premises. We suspect it may be inaccurate, incomplete or irrelevant to the purposes for which it was collected or further processed.

Everyman: This is my private house. It’s my personal information.

DI: Your personal information? We’ve heard it names other people. That makes it their information.

Everyman: It’s still my private house.

DI: From which you run a little business on eBay.  No household exception for you.

Everyman: I don’t have to answer your questions.

DI: Ah, but you do.  How else can we perform our duty to the public?

Everyman: What about my privacy?

DI: Privacy begins at home. So that's where we start.

Everyman: By invading my privacy?

DI: We protect privacy, we don’t invade it.

Everyman: You seem to be about to invade my home.

DI: Sometimes you have to sacrifice privacy to preserve privacy.

Everyman: So what do you want to know?

DI: Who is the data controller in this house?

Everyman: How should I know that?

DI: You are required to know that. The data controller should have notified us.

Everyman: Well you’ve got me there, haven’t you?

DI: When did you last clean your data?

Everyman: Clean?

DI: Scrub it - remove excessive, irrelevant or out of date data. We like to see hygienic data practices, citizen.  Dirty data is a menace.

Everyman: Sounds like the last public health campaign.

DI: Exactly.  Unclean data spreads.  We could have a national data contamination crisis on our hands.  You know our motto: “Healthy data makes a healthy mind”.

Everyman: So you think I’ve got a secret store of mouldy old data hidden away here, do you? 

DI: I’m sure of it.  We have a duty to discharge and you’re starting to be obstructive.

Everyman: What else do you want?

DI: Do all your appliances conform to privacy design standards?

Everyman: And if they don’t?

DI: You’ll be put on our list.

Everyman: What list is that?

DI: The privacy offenders register. Everyone should know who can and can’t be trusted with their data.

Everyman: How long would I be on it?

DI: Permanently.

Everyman: No right to be forgotten, then?

DI: Not where privacy breaches are concerned, my friend. Far too serious.

Everyman: Well, thank you for your interest. Now please leave.

DI: Not that simple, citizen.  Sledgehammer, please.

Everyman: (wakes up).

[Now dedicated to the memory of John Blundell, who died on 22 July 2014. Find out the connection here.]

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