When financial markets appear to be in free fall, many organisations might think that data protection is the least of their worries. Who cares, they might wonder, about protecting personal data if tomorrow we might not exist any more? (And, from what we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the ‘might not exist tomorrow’ possibility should be a very real planning scenario for all but the world’s best-capitalised banks).
Well, in the UK, the Information Commissioner is unlikely to cease caring – already identified as “setting the political and administrative agendas for the protection of personal data in this century in the UK” and for “firmly disciplining politicians, civil servants, the media and business folk into line”, he’s unlikely to allow data protection to take a back seat at exactly the moment that spammers are expected to take advantage of bank buyouts to launch new phishing scams.
However, we’re talking here about banks who were unable to identify or adequately manage some rather more obvious risks to their business (like, if you lend someone 130% of the value of his collateral, and if his current cashflow is insufficient to pay the interest let alone repay the principle, how do you expect to survive?) than those around personal data. So, if you’re a bank customer, it might not be wise to hope that, in the midst of all this turmoil, your personal data will be adequately protected. The facts speak for themselves: US organisations are on track to report at least 680 data breaches by the end of 2008, affecting more than 30 million records.
It is clearly the case that, with personal data, one can only rely on oneself to protect it!