The Security Viewpoint - News and opinion on information security, data breaches, and compliance

The Security Viewpoint:


News and opinion on information security, data breaches, and compliance

Tighten up on privacy, or there’ll be trouble

Heard at Ovum’s Information Privacy and Protection Strategy workshop (London, September 7):

A strong word of warning from one speaker, Alex Hanif of Privacy International (, a pressure group that campaigns against what it sees as unnecessary intrusions into our personal privacy – from CCTV to ID cards and much else.

He told delegates to expect much stronger data protection laws from Europe over the next 18 months, and urged them to take the whole subject much more seriously. “I’m standing here today giving you a friendly warning, but I could be facing you in a court of law some time,” was his message.

He also promised to take legal action against the UK government if it insists on requiring telecommunications companies to keep records for inspection by government agencies.

Among his promises:

* Provision for US-style class-action suits in Europe allowing groups of victims to make a joint claim. He is involved in setting up a new Privacy Rights Centre to help victims launch their suits.

* The function of website cookies will be limited from next May to helping you log in as a returning visitor.

Among his advice:

* Adopt ‘Privacy by Design’ – in other words, consider privacy at the very early stages of the design of a new service.

* Banish shared log passwords. Improve access controls, so that only the right people can see personal information.

* Don’t keep any personal information you don’t need. It’s against the spirit of the Data Protection Act, anyway, but it could get you in trouble if it’s lost.

* Prepare for more stringent data protection laws. “The bar is going to be raised, so don’t just try to meet today’s requirements, because you’ll have to go back and do it all again once the new rules come into effect.”

* Use good privacy as a way of achieving competitive advantage and boosting your brand. As an example, he cited Apple’s new Ping service which has made a big play of its strong privacy settings.

* Be very careful about checking the Facebook pages of employees or job applicants - that could be an invasion of their privacy.



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