Privacy and personal data

In a discussion about ICT and public services, Tony Molloy raised concerns about privacy:

I’ve been considering how we might use social networks but I have concerns about some of their terms of service which effectively seem to assign to them any and all rights to do whatever they like with any content that is uploaded, which I am a little wary of in regard of our information and how it might be represented in other ways and also what might develop should a service provider be taken over by another organisation.

I then said something about needing a driver about privacy and personal information on the site, but this went out of my mind until I read about a new publication by Demos – FYI: the new politics of personal information. The amount of personal information that others hold on us is growing, and many are concerned about what they see as a dangerous lack of awareness or concern about this amongst the general public.

Demos make an interesting point in their summary of the report, that this is not just about surveillance. A great deal of personal information is willingly given up, and there are often rewards for this, eg in the form of more personalised services or new and rich ways to communicate with eachother (eg via facebook).

But there are clearly negatives, as Demos highlight:

Information is increasingly relied upon by the public and private sector to make important judgements about people. There is now more opportunity than ever for those decisions to be made without our consent or involvement. Personal information can be interpreted and used long after the everyday interactions it originated from.

This brings me back to the beginning to Tony's concern about what happens to the data that their organisation holds on service users, and the role that they play as a gateway through which service users might make their own personal data (unknowingly?) available. In the world of web2.0, of collaboration and partnership, and of public service delivery, data and privacy are becoming key issues for VCOs to consider.

PS That driver is on the way!

Update: the driver has arrived!

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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