Can BCS help guide policy to better protect personal data?

We're all sick of our personal data being sold for profit, particularly when inundated with cold calls or spam e-mails as a result. On the other hand, the benefits of data aggregation for study are undeniable: the possibilities that arise from analysis of large public datasets, from Twitter feeds to NHS records, could potentially provide immensely powerful insights into our society.

Can the BCS help guide government policy to better protect our interests, without stifling innovation?

Posted by Scott Milne on 23rd Mar 2017
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Comments (2)

Thivanka Manjula Hewa Colomba Vithanage

14 October 2017

As a Charted Professional Body BCS surely would be more than capable in setting standards and guidelines in personal data security policies. However, this exercise has to be a joint venture of many organisations and initially there can be drawbacks of opposition from various parties. Overall BCS is one of the best parties to be the torch bearer for the job.

James Davies

11 April 2017

Hi Scott, completely agree that personal data is one of the major issues facing society today, and therefore should be (and is) a key priority for BCS. There’s a widespread lack of understanding amongst much of the public around what aspects of their data is collected, by whom or what it’s used for. That lack of understanding is resulting in people fearing or being hostile to the prospect of their data being shared, meaning none of the positive potential opportunities that you mention can be realised.

BCS believes we need to get to a position where individuals feel like they have control over their data, and it’s something we’re doing a lot of work on. Personal Data is one of the four ‘Challenges’ (ongoing campaigns) that we have specifically prioritised for exactly the kind of work you suggest in your post. For instance, we have been busily hosting events to discuss the subject in depth: here are videos from events we hosted with ministers at the 2015 party political conferences; from one of our IT Impact events with IT professionals last year; and from the 2016 Labour and Conservative arty conferences (links below)

We are currently doing some work talking to large organisations about how they could be dealing with their customer data better, but we’re also really keen to hear from our Members about what they think!

2016 political party conference activity:

2016 Labour Party Conference:

2016 Conservative Party Conference: