Protecting the Innocence – or Data Protection is not Negotiable

By Philip Miller
on May 8, 2018

 Data Protection-1Do you ever get the feeling that the world is coming around to your way of thinking? At Solidatus we have been part of a lot of projects that have spent a lot of money on some really mundane things. For example, I cannot think of anything less sexy than mapping data from one schema to the next only to see someone change something and for the mapping to become useless meaning the whole task needs to be done again – rinse and repeat.

If you take a step back though, it is really scary that we have so little control, even in the most tightly regulated environments, of our data flows. Is it the wild west? No, it is not that bad, we can always go back and inspect stuff to understand what is happening – it is not life and death right?

WhatsappMore recently there have been an increasing number of stories in the press about the exploitation of personal data and the apparent lack of transparency about what it, the product, is being used for.

It seems to me that, in this day and age, the fact that we cannot simply pull up a page that shows the detail of what of our product is in use and where, is astonishing. Can it be that hard? The answer is that it is hard, not because it is not easy and possible but because we have chosen to take a short-cut too far. We encourage fast changes, we provoke engineers, score-carding them on new features and releases, but we forgot about documentation and about sharing with others what they are doing.

Now, let’s be honest, developers and engineers don’t like writing documentation. That is for architects, former developers who are a bit older and who don’t want to code any more. Remember this is the real world we are talking about. Change happens! We need to engrain into the culture of change enough documentation so that others can keep up with what is changing.

Back to the reason for this post – “Protect the Innocence”. WhatsApp announced over the last week that they were going to put into their terms and conditions that under 16-year olds are not allowed to use their service. Set aside the problem of how you prove the age of someone who has a phone, bought with someone else’s credit (because that must be how they got it). Now wonder why they have done it.

I want to be very generous here and say that they are worried about the affect their service is having on younger people. Why would they worry about that? Is it because their service could cause harm to some? I don’t want to draw conclusions, I like WhatsApp – actually I think they are recognising a truth and that is that there is an age before which proper supervision is needed. To me privacy goes hand-in-hand with proof. Essentially a service needs to show their working and prove to me that the privacy of my data is assured. This is even more important with people who cannot make the decisions about allowing their product to be used. If I were a parent or guardian of a child who allowed their data to be put into anyone else’s care, I would want them to tell me what they wanted to do with it.

Too often terms of use are wrapped up in silly legal language in unusable and long documents with I Agree at the end. It should be a matter of a click and I should know exactly what is and has happened with my data. My data rights are simple, my data is mine and if I chose to give it away [in exchange for a service] then I should have the right to see what it is doing.

It is even more clear cut when it is a child or someone incapable of understanding the terms of ‘I Agree’. It should be demonstrably clear to them that their data is used and that it is not being abused. As a society, and a society with a lot of technological capabilities, we should put the protection of innocence at the top of the agenda. We can only protect our data rights if we have a clear and declarative proof, not hidden behind any legal spin or get-outs, of what our data is doing. So it is the right of our innocence that should be critical to us as a society.

At Solidatus we believe that everyone has the right to see where their data is being put to work. Lineage is at the heart of this and so therefore everyone has a right to their data lineage.

Talk to us today about how we can help with your data protection concerns:

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Topics: Data Lineage, GDPR

Author: Philip Miller

Co-Founder, Senior Architect, Analyst and Engineer with over 20 years’ experience within Financial Services specialising in high performance computing, complex event processing and system integration. He is an acknowledged expert in real-time regulatory reporting.
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