21st February 2018
Is Big Brother defender or oppressor with regard to data protection?

Big Brother: Protector or Persecutor?

This March, the Switch2IT team has been closely monitoring the progress of Big Brother Watch who have been “pushing for amendments to key areas of concern in the Data Protection Bill, including: - safeguards to protect people against automated decisions - removing wide Gov exemptions from key data protection rights”, an issue very close to our hearts. 

Big Brother Watch ensures those that undermine our online security and fail to respect our privacy and personal data are held accountable. Founded in 2009, the group campaigns on behalf of individuals to warrant that privacy and civil liberties are maintained in the digital age by government, public authorities and businesses.

Data protection: rights or wrongs?

We know that the very nature of the information age in which we live puts our personal data at risk yet there is little we can do to protect ourselves without support and enforcement from the powers that be. It is crucial that the Data Protection Bill, combined with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), takes special care to protect personal information so that individuals, and businesses by extension, are not put at unnecessary risk of data breaches and cyber security attacks.

One of the most worrying exemptions to data protection rights in the upcoming Bill is that of individual’s rights not to be subject to automated decision-making. That is, the new Bill will allow machines to make decisions for us and about us without us having a right to reply and tick-boxes can be used to conceal the inhuman nature of what is pure automation!

Yet, on 13 March, Big Brother Watch announced on Twitter that this is the latest in a long list of proposed amendments to be pushed out:

 “Amendment to the Bill: To remove exemption which takes away the majority of data protection rights in relation to 'immigration control'. Government votes against. Amendment not passed.

Automation alert

The fact is, though Switch2IT crusades for technology we are not blind to the negative implications if technology, and the people hiding behind technology, are given too much control. What about automated parking tickets? In effect, these amount to legalised fraud and they are issued in such volume that no one ever questions their validity.

Did you happen to see Rm9sbG93ZXJz season 11 episode 7 The X-Files? Mulder and Scully, who are no strangers to weird-goings-on, were freaked out entirely when the robots started to take over. The hit sci-fi show illustrated everything from ordering and serving sushi to driverless cars to spy drones to in-home entertainment systems while driving the message that as soon as decisions are taken out of our hands things can get really out of hand

Regulator rigor mortis

We are already in a hot mess with regulators failing on financial crisis, as economics commentator Alex Brummer said in in The Crunch: "There was a central paradox at the heart of the mortgage boom. How is it possible to make money by lending large sums to people who had not a hope in hell of paying it back?" Then there was the collapse of construction company Carillion and the resulting uncertainly over whether pensions will be paid. And what about the VW scandal emission cheats? The latest reports state that the introduction of unlimited fines and criminal charges for faking environmental tests will not be retrospective so Volkswagen will get away with murder (of the planet, at least).

It is interesting to us that technology is in a state where it goes almost unchallenged and that it is a nibble away from turning the lot of us into thoughtless monkeys. We look forward to seeing whether any changes occur after a few MPs come face-to-face with the consequences of an automated decision or two…

Switch2IT will protect your interests

Whether you need IT networking for your large office, interim IT management for your small consultancy or remote IT support – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – Switch2IT is here to serve you and your business.

If you are looking for access to a crack team of technical support professionals you trust at a monthly price you can afford, our IT managed service contract sounds ideal for you. Also, until the end of April 2018, you can get a free iPad when you sign up for a three-year contract! Contact Switch2IT today for more information.

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