*UPDATE* November 4 2013 – the ICO has responded to this. See bottom
History is defined by its ages. In the past we’ve had the middles ages, then we went through the industrial revolution, and became part of the industrial age, where machinery and manufacturing was key. Over the last 30 years, however, we’ve gone through a new revolution, the information revolution, and we’re now firmly into the information age.
In such an age, safeguards are THE most important thing we can have, because unlike industrial equipment, information is completely fungible, and readily disseminated. It also has significant liquidity, which is a serious concern when information can describe, and expose so much of our daily lives.
As a result, any restrictions, safeguards, or limitations – or indeed any enforcement of them – must be put into place with that in mind, and done from a position of competence, and privacy. This was the reason for the establishment of the Information commissioners office in the UK, and its brethren around Europe.
The core requirement is that it be competent, however, with a close second being a willingness to enforce the rules, and not be caught in a form of regulatory capture, putting the needs of businesses above the needs of citizens. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case, and if it’s not, what can be done? Continue reading…