BusinessWeek (via Spiegel Online) discusses reactions to the post-Sept. 11 arrangement to share European banking data with the US authorities. According to this article, "Europe Balks at Sharing Bank Data", EU foreign ministers are likely to grant the request of US anti-terror officials to carry on examining Europeans' financial transactions.

While Sweden (the current EU presidency) is set to negotiate an agreement with Washington that would allow it to scrutinize European citizens' banking data, there is increasing criticism both from Germany and from the European Parliament. The article quotes Guido Westerwelle, head of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), as aaying it was "totally unacceptable" that US authorities are provided with access to movements in accounts in Germany, adding "This plan must be stopped".

The transactions in question are those processed by SWIFT (the … Continue Reading ››
Ten years ago, Data Protection policy was located in the Home Office’s Constitutional and Community Directorate, where you could find many of Whitehall’s permanently lost causes. Data Protection was too European to be popular in the Home Office, that most Europhobic of Departments. If you added the associations with Information Technology, then data protection was, departmentally speaking, in the basement. But it also perhaps meant that the highly competent officials and lawyers who worked on the Bill had a greater opportunity to influence the shape of the legislation than was perhaps usual; and, given the culture of the Department, they could work against the grain of the Directive.

Kicked out by a new Home Secretary (David Blunkett) to the Lord Chancellor’s Department, which mutated into the Department for Constitutional Affairs and then the Ministry of Justice, data protection has remained a small and … Continue Reading ››
David Meyer, writing for ZDNet.uk, reports on allegations that the British voice-to-text conversion company SpinVox has been operating in breach of data protection rules. The allegations were made by the BBC, following an investigation which concluded that SpinVox used call centres in the Philippines and South Africa to carry out voice-to-text conversions, prompting the Information Commissioner's Office to say it would be in touch with SpinVox about the transfer of personal data outside the European Economic Area. According to Privacy International South Africa has no data protection laws and the Philippines is in much the same position, even both recognise some measure of protection of personal privacy.

SpinVox insists that its processes are compliant with data-protection legislation and that any use of people rather than machines was to help its automated systems learn. … Continue Reading ››
We Europeans are so preoccupied by our concerns over data protection and social networks that we may not be fully aware of the interest generated by our debate in quarters far removed from our little patch of the planet. But Datonomy has noticed that our debate is being closely followed ... in Ethiopia, a jurisdiction in which internet penetration stands at a modest 0.4% of the population.

Last week's Ethiopian Review carries an article entitled "EU Wants Tighter Privacy on Social Networks", posted by Desta Bishu. The article reviews the efforts (or the lack of them) by Facebook and MySpace to protect user privacy, as well as current compliance guidelines and their applicability to systems for holding and transmitting UGC. The moral of the story is simple: the better the quality of our debate, and the … Continue Reading ››
Business Week reports that three companies within the HSCB banking group have between them been fined over £3 million by the Financial Services Authority (UK) for customer data protection lapses. HSBC Life were ordered to pay £1,610,000, HSBC Actuaries £875,000 and HSBC Insurance Brokers £700,000. The fines followed an investigation by the FSA which revealed that customer data was sent without encryption to third parties and via couriers, and left in unlocked cabinets and on open shelves. A spokesman for HSBC Insurance is quoted as saying:
"While this is a serious matter, no customer reported any loss from these failures and we are doing everything possible to prevent a recurrence. We have implemented even more rigorous systems [this suggests that the previous systems were "rigorous"], better checks and more training for our people. We … Continue Reading ››
The UK's Justice Minister Michael Wills has announced plans to ensure that more public information is made available and preserved for future generations. These plans take the form of a new Code of Practice on managing digital and other records, plus extension of the Freedom of Information Act. According to the news release:
"Freedom of Information depends on good record keeping and the preservation of information is important if we are to further increase transparency in public life. The updated Code of Practice is a significant step in ensuring that key records remain accessible to public bodies for day to day business and are preserved for future generations. The Code recommends public bodies across the country introduce a strategy for the preservation of digital records to ensure that they can continue to be accessed and used and are resilient to future changes in technology.
Continue Reading ››
Recently the IP Finance weblog posted an article by Louise O'Callaghan entitled "The Sale of Databases as Assets in Insolvency". The title suggests that the article is all about database rights in intellectual property. In fact, most of the text discusses the Data Protection Act issues that arise when collections of personal data are assets of a business that has become insolvent. As expected, the legal protection of data subjects is not something that the purchaser of data assets from an insolvent business can easily get around, which may make the acquisition of the data an awkward chore for the prospective purchaser.