Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Public/Private Data and the Law

A bit of an update on a few things.

Firstly, these articles may be helpful to develop some of the legal and data security issues you need to understand:
In terms of the distinction between private and public data, I was interested to see some of the examples people were coming up with in class. Good examples of private data included information about criminal records, health records (with the specific example of records from an STD clinic), PIN details for bank cards, national insurance numbers and driving licence details.

I wonder, however, if there are ever cases where criminal records need to be made public - when someone is convicted their case may make the press, for example, and this is then a matter of puboic record (think of Pete Docharty for example - everyone knows he has a criminal record). I wonder, as well, whether there is an argument that sex offenders should, in some circumstances, have their details made public in some form?

Interesting examples of public data included gender and your family relations, say through a family tree. I wonder, though, whether there are some people who may wish to keep their gender private? I think this happens - you may be able to find examples of history where this has happened as well (George Eliot for example).

Perhaps your relations might be a slightly tricky area as well. Some people may not want to reveal their who their relations are! If you think about typical bank security questions like "what's your mother's maiden name", then perhaps the information is actually something we should be a bit more concerned about.

I did wonder in class whether there was a difference between the amount of information people of my age like to keep private and the amount that people of your age make public? Facebook profiles, and other social networking sites, can contain an awful lot of information which, in the wrong hands, might be better to keep private...

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