Continuing our recent theme of data protection (or FOI) on the big screen, there are some who say The Lives of Others is the greatest film made with a privacy theme, while others cite Sandra Bullock in The Net (surely this is not a serious comparison? - Ed.) (No, it wasn't).

Datonomy had been casting around for something filmed as a backdrop to our first birthday celebrations, so when colleague and fellow blogger Helen Newman (the force behind the estimable Fashionista-at-law blog) mentioned to us a new documentary with a privacy theme, Erasing David, yet to be shown on UK television, we were receptive.

We're delighted to have secured an exclusive screening of Erasing David, with one of the stars making a guest appearance to answer questions after the show. If you would like to … Continue Reading ››
Datonomy doesn't normally stray into Freedom of Information Act territory, nor TV reviews...However, we would like to make an exception for the highly watchable drama "On Expenses" shown again on BBC4 yesterday evening.

Tony Saint's dramatisation of the MPs' expenses controversy highlights the role of American journalist and FoI activist Heather Brooke in exposing the scandal. Heather is played by the fabulous Anna Maxwell Martin, with Brian Cox as former Speaker Michael Martin and a dashing Neil Pearson as Hugh Tomlinson QC.

Leaving aside the inherent drama of the expenses debacle (indeed, the words "you couldn't make it up" featured in the opening credit sequence) the programme also provided a highly engaging and accessible one hour primer on the Freedom of Information Act itself.

So, returning to our home territory of DP, this … Continue Reading ››
Writing for International Law Office ("New e-signature and data protection acts create new IT framework"), Hoxha Memi & Hoxha lawyer Ilir Johollari explains some recent legislative developments in one of Europe's least-known jurisdictions. On personal data protection the authors write:
"Modern use of information and communication technology raises the issues of privacy and personal data protection. In this regard, Parliament has approved the Law on the Protection of Personal Data (9887/2008). Under the law, personal data must be processed in a way that respects human rights and freedoms and privacy.

The law applies to the automatic processing of personal data. Protection of personal data is based on fair, transparent and lawful processing of such data, which is limited to the purpose for which the data is needed. Personal data may be processed only with the subject's consent.

The law regulates the international … Continue Reading ››
In today's post entitled "Please [don't] rob me", Olswang LLP's +Technology blog discusses the startlingly original and somewhat shocking website. This site, subtitled "Listing all those empty homes out there" and also accessible via Twitter search, has attracted a lot of attention, both hostile and laudatory. Writes +Technology:
"J. K. Rowling’s Marauder’s Map allowed its owner to track the movements of anyone within Hogwarts’ grounds. In a more subtle way, social networking sites like Twitter make it possible to tell where someone (even a complete stranger) is at a given moment and often for how long they will be there. Whilst we could trust Harry to put this power to good use in defeating the Dark Lord, there is clear opportunity for abuse of location-based data at the hands of less scrupulous … Continue Reading ››
In “The Concept of Mind “ (1949), the philosopher Gilbert Ryle illustrates the concept of a category mistake. A foreign visitor to Oxford is shown colleges, libraries, playing field, museums, and so on. He says at the end, yes, but where is the University? It then has to be explained to him that the University is not some counterpart of the colleges he has seen, it is just the way in which what he has seen is organised. He was mistakenly allocating the University to the same category as that to which the other organisations belong.

Now substitute “John Smith” for Oxford University, and his data sets for the colleges and other university institutions. What are the interpretative and practical implications of looking at personal data like this?

On this reading, “John Smith” is the university without the university institutions. If there are personal data of the usual … Continue Reading ››
An article on +TECHNOLOGY, "A revolution in location-based advertising?", comments on the announcement by search engine and internet-based services giant Google that it plans a new feature: whenever a user searches for a specific restaurant, museum or other place of interest in a certain area, Google Maps will suggest a list of nearby attractions which that user might also enjoy. The article asks:
"How do the nice folks at Google know what I, the searcher, might enjoy? It is not entirely clear. The press release stresses that suggestions are not limited to places sharing a “specific characteristic”. Rather, the feature makes use of a “broad set of signals” to come up with the “most interesting suggestions”. These signals may well include the browsing history of the user’s IP address, and thus constitute another outlet for Google’s online behavioural advertising techniques.

Whatever the signals, are we seeing here … Continue Reading ››

The ICO has published a draft code of practice on the way it will use its soon-to-be acquired powers to audit organisations' compliance with data protection legislation. The power to serve Assessment Notices, which is about to be introduced in new Sections 41A - C of the Data Protection Act (by virtue of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009) will go live in April, according the the ICO's press release. Initially the powers will only apply to public sector bodies, but the new legislation provides for the powers to extend to private sector data controllers who are "designated" (by means of secondary legislation) on the ICO's recommendation. In other words, any data controller appearing to present a high risk of DP breaches -in particular those unwilling to co-operate with the ICO - could potentially find themselves on … Continue Reading ››