Just how “personal” do you want to get?

The Data Protection Act is getting a bit long in the tooth.  It was introduced in 1998, the year after re-writeable CDs and the year before Wi-Fi was introduced. It was more than a decade before social media became popular.  In fact, the Data Protection Act has done extremely well to remain relevant. It has withstood massive changes in how we store and manage our own personal data, never mind how other people look after the data they hold about us.Image of a lady lying on a park bench using a personal data device

Change is afoot

However, change is afoot.  The EU has been working on an updated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for some time now and it is almost ready for nation states to begin adopting it into domestic law.  The thing is, though, this isn’t just about big corporates any more.  Almost every single one of us uses and processes personal data.  We store our contact lists containing dates of birth, addresses (street and email) and phone numbers happily in the “cloud”.  We copy the data automatically from device to device as we go.  In fact, we do this without thinking.  It is the default option.  Now, everybody is a Data Controller and a Data Processor. Everybody is affected by data processing laws.

Data protection is personal

Often, we only think about data processing when it is visible to us.  Perhaps there is news of a big data breech at a company that has your credit card information.  Perhaps you want to use a Subject Access Request to find out what information people have been sharing about you behind your back.  Worse still, perhaps privacy is just about that annoying pop-up in your web browser (you know the one, something about chocolate biscuits containing your data).  In fact, you likely make decisions about the privacy and protection of your personal data every day.  You decide what nuggets of information to share and who to share them with.  The new data protection regulations will not be just for techies and geeks.  We will all need to think about how we interact with data in this information world.