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Data Protection Act Fail

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Big Brother Watch

I have said it before, but clearly it needs to be said again: the Data Protection Act and the Information Commissioner’s Office, as configured today, are a waste of time, space and our money. Today, Big Brother Watch has published a report showing

more than 1000 incidents [of data loss] across 132 local authorities, including at least 35 councils who have lost information about children and those in care…

…Yet of the 1035 incidents, local authorities reported that just 55 were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Perhaps more concerning, just 9 incidents resulted in termination of employment.
Local authority data loss exposed

Put plainly, the Data Protection Act isn’t working.

I have also been critical in the past about the Information Commissioner. In reality, he is in an impossible position. What can he do with local authorities? Fines are meant to hurt – they are a punishment to make people behave more responsibly in the future. But fines don’t work on local authorities because they don’t have any money of their own – it is our money. And if they don’t have enough of our cash to pay the fine, they’ll just have to reduce our services.

The local authorities are also in a difficult position. It’s not ‘them’ that loses the data, but their staff. And it’s nigh on impossible to sack local authority staff because of the combined weight of the employment laws, the Human Rights Act, and of course, UNISON.

So we have an Act that doesn’t work enforced by an organization that cannot enforce. That should be enough to cause a change. But nothing will change because the Data Protection Act is forced on us by the EU, and we don’t have the sovereignty to do anything about it. And there’s one other problem: the Data Protection Act allows our government to pretend it cares about our privacy. Obviously it doesn’t.

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