Invaded privacy

The arguments about data’s invasion of privacy is a concept that difficult for a database person to understand.

Credit bureaux work with data so that they can differentiate those people who are a poor credit risk from those who are not. The 1998 British Data Protection Act makes holding some of that data illegal. So it’s difficult to differentiate between the good and the bad and creditworthiness is assessed at the highest risk level for everyone. Individuals are obliged to prove that they are less of a credit risk, and those who can’t don’t get credit. Or when there’s too much money around, everyone gets credit, and then there’s eventually a lot of bad debt, and we have a financial crisis.

This thinking is now being extended to protecting the data that can be gleaned from cell phone companies. From the tower records it is possible to determine peoples’ movements. That seems to be cause for concern.

Tracking a persons movements, particularly in Britain with it’s ubiquitous CCTV cameras, has been possible before now. The idea that it’s become easier seems to have raised levels of concern. The cry is that additional legislation must be enacted to protect peoples’ privacy. What that invasion might be is not entirely clear.

Having used data as proof in criminal investigations makes the outcry even more difficult to understand. The ability to determine that the perpetrator called an accessory at the time that the crime was committed is valuable evidence. This is not about what was said; it’s just who and when.

With this kind of data it was possible to prove that a cashier in Guyana and his co-conspirator had defrauded the Guyanese people out of Gy$300 million.

The magistrate ruled that use of the data was inadmissible (incorrectly as it happened), and the criminals were allowed to go free.

That’s what we need – laws making it possible for clever defense lawyers to get criminals off the hook.

If people are so worried about being tracked they can just switch the phone off. No legislation required.

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