The value of data is undisputed, but as The Wall Street Journal reported, in “the squishy world of intangibles,” there is no real rules for valuing the prize assets that make up over $550B of the combined worth of Google, EBay and Facebook. The U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board is now looking at researching this again.
Our prize-winner in last year’s Privacy Unbound writing contest, James Kelaher, made the point that if data was on the balance sheet, people might take better care of it, which makes valuation a logical step. Clearly, Woollies has put enormous value on the customer data it collects and continues to invest heavily in its use.
The misconception that privacy should stop the meaningful flow of information, which led to the Caldicott Report on the NHS in the UK, raises its head this time in respect of the military services. Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs said that individual rights need to be balanced against an officer's ability to look after all personnel under his or her command. He said that a "deliberately non-descriptive medical categorisation" system shaped by a focus on the Privacy Act meant that officers were told whether or not a person was fit for deployment but did not always know why. This brings to mind the expression, “I can’t give you the information BOTPA—Because of the Privacy Act,” which is sometimes used even when access is clearly permissible. Ignorance can give privacy a bad name.
And while we are on that topic, the big news in privacy this week is the subject of a yet-to-be-released public interest determination by the privacy commissioner. Ben Grubb, a journalist, got to thinking that if the government could have access to his metadata, then he, too, should be able to have access. He was refused, and after prolonged attempts, the issue has now been taken to the commissioner, whose decision will be of great interest to all telcos and many of us as individuals.
Meanwhile, the new laws that will affect all of our metadata have been called Draconian, and Edward Snowden gives a few tips on how to keep your information private.
In the regulatory sphere, we await the imminent release of the OAIC Annual Report, which will have a lot of useful statistics, and the privacy commissioner has issued a statement about online security this week.
The 36th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, with the marvellous title “A World Order for Data Protection,” has just finished. We look forward to reports from that, but in the meantime, it seems that the Estonians—driven by need and lack of resources—have developed an order all of their own.
Writing from Melbourne this week where it is bleak and cold but brightened up by the hundreds of security experts from around the world who are speaking at the AISA Conference, which makes it all the better.
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