IT professionalism vs the UK’s DNA database 30 Jul 2008Posted by Tony Law in Technorati.
Tags: Data Protection, Professionalism
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I’ve just finished marking a set of student scripts from an Open University course which links IT and workplace practice. One question concerned the UK’s Data Protection Act, which has eight principles designed to ensure data processing is open, fair and not compromised.
So which organisation do we find flouting at least seven of the eight principles? The UK Government.
For some time in this country we’ve had a DNA database which is supposed to help the police catch offenders in sex cases. It contains DNA profiles not only from everyone convicted of such a crime, but from everyone accused – even if proven innocent. And the “data subjects” don’t have the option about whether to supply the data.
This Government beefed up the role of the Data Protection Registrar, calling it the Information Commissioner’s Office. It’s supposed to enforce compliance.
Now we find that same Government not only maintains data on this database which is not required for the purpose it is supposedly collected. It is also passing the data to commercial research companies and other unconnected bodies. For a purpose which may of itself be admirable, but which is quite clearly not that for which it was collected, and without any authorisation from the data subjects.
If I captured this as a case study for my students, they would have no trouble telling me what was wrong with this practice. Who are the IT practitioners (I won’t call them professionals) who allowed this gross violation of professional practice to happen, and didn’t blow the whistle when it was happening, and didn’t resign in protest?
• UK Data Protection Act: the eight Principles (Schedule 1 of the Act)
• Home Office allowing private companies access to the DNA Database (Liberal Democrat news release, 28 Jul 2008 )
• Information and communication technologies at work: Open University course T121
No false hiding at Forrester 14 Jul 2008Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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I liked this.
Forrester made a small bloomer on their web backend last week which resulted in one of their analysts’ mugshots being replaced by a picture of a colleague of the opposite gender. Far from just correcting it quickly and hoping nobody would notice, the analyst concerned has made a mini-case study of it to remind people of some fundamentals of web publishing.
Being able to share lessons from your own mistakes is a mark of considerable maturity! Well done Stephen Power and Forrester.
Link: (I don’t think this is restricted to Forrester clients)
• Steve, You’ve Never Looked Better (Forrester Research blog, 9 July 2008 )
Iona, Ireland’s success, is acquired 11 Jul 2008Posted by Tony Law in Uncategorized.
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A note in Gartner’s latest mailing alerted me to the fact that Iona Technologies, a great Irish success story, is coming to the end of its independent existence. It’s being acquired by Progress Software.
Why do I call Iona a great success? For me it’s always been an example, particularly to the Eurosceptic UK, of how to get the best out of Europe. From the Irish Republic’s wholehearted participation in Europe, researchers at Trinity College Dublin (Chris Horn, Annrai O’Toole and others) used the Esprit and Framework programmes to support development of innovative middleware. Iona was spun off in the 1990s, became an international player, and acquired a base in the US, but remained an Irish company and the acquisition will proceed under Irish law.
Its principals took technology leadership to the Object Management Group, contributing to OMG architectures and basing products on them. The company is active in a range of Open Source initiatives. They shared their insights widely through collaborative research and speaking engagements. Although Iona as a company will be judged to have stayed a leader in the second division – it never became an Oracle or BEA – its influence has been disproportionately huge.
We wish Iona well for the future.
• Progress Software Corporation to Acquire IONA Technologies Progress/Iona press release 25 Jun 2008
• Iona Technologies company website
• Progress Software company website
• Iona Technologies (Wikipedia)
• Progress Acquires Iona to Strengthen Presence in AIM Market from Gartner Flash, 3 July 2008, fully accessible to Gartner clients only