• Tracey Twynham

Data In The News


In the week where MI5 has been out under special measures over its use of data obtained under warrants, the use (or misuse) of personal data is high on the agenda again. Placing MI5 under special measures because the breaches were of "such gravity", the Investigatory Powers Commissioner said that in future the security service will have to show its systems are fit for purpose "to a greater degree than usual" when applying for warrants. All those who gather, store and process data – take note; mishandling of data is taken very seriously by the powers that be!Meanwhile, other data stories in the news ….

Can Data Stop Malaria?

The BBC reports that big data can stop Malaria outbreaks. Every year, malaria kills more than 400,000 people globally - most of them children. A ground-breaking study in Bangladesh has found that using data from mobile phone networks to track the movement of people across the country can help predict where outbreaks of diseases such as malaria are likely to occur, enabling health authorities to take preventative measures.

Should the nation’s coffers profit by selling NHS data?

The NHS is a valuable national asset – and not just in terms of the lives it saves. The NHS database has comprehensive patient records for 65 million people that go back decades. This treasure trove is priceless to technology giants such as Alphabet as well as healthcare firms, which are vying to develop health mobile phone apps that perform a host of tasks from monitoring vital organs to carrying out an initial diagnosis. Speaking in The Guardian, former UK science and defence minister Lord Drayson, says: “NHS data is world-class and a national asset of the UK, potentially worth billions, that could help to fund NHS services in future. Big tech companies shouldn’t be able to access NHS data for free.”

In May, the European Commission published a new guidance on the interaction of free flow of non-personal data with the EU data protection rules.


As part of the Digital Single Market strategy, the new Regulation on the free flow of non-

personal data, which has started to apply in the Member states, will allow data to be stored and processed everywhere in the EU without unjustified restrictions. The guidance aims to help users – in particular small and medium-sized enterprises – understand the interaction between these new rules and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - especially when datasets are composed of both personal and non-personal data.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is under investigation after giving out record number of motorists’ details

In another post-GDPR inquiry, The DVLA is to be investigated by the information watchdog after releasing a record number of drivers’ personal details in 2018. The Times reports that 23m drivers had their personal information handed over by the agency (DVLA) to third parties, including private investigators and bailiffs, often so they could chase outstanding parking fines.

Want someone's personal data? Give them a free doughnut

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BetaNews recently reported on an interesting project by technology services provider Probrand. Apparently, it’s not only Homer Simpson who would hand over personal details in exchange for a doughnut, some cybersecurity professionals are happy to do the same. Probrand has carried out a study at a cyber expo attended by UK security professionals, where attendees voluntarily shared sensitive data including their name, date of birth and favourite football team -- all to get their hands on a free doughnut. This follows recent news that millions of accounts are still using '123456' as a password, with people's names, favourite football teams and favourite bands also commonly employed. Who’d a thunk it?!

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