• Tracey Twynham

Data in the News – October 2019

Welcome to our monthly look at data stories that are hitting the headlines ...


No-deal Brexit data - should firms worry?

Just how worried should companies, big and small, be about handling data in the event of a no-deal Brexit?


The key issue is that, right now, data can flow freely across the EU as long as companies conform to its tough new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And as the GDPR is being incorporated wholesale into UK law, there should be no real change after Brexit - as long as we leave with a deal.


But if there is no deal, we will be treated as an external country, needing what is called an adequacy ruling showing our data protection standards are up to scratch - and the European Commission has indicated that this would not happen in a hurry.


The advice is that you should "review your contracts and, where absent, include Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC) or other Alternative Transfer Mechanisms (ATM) to ensure that you can continue to legally receive personal data from the EU/EEA."

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Electronic Arts (EA) exposes the personal data of 1,600 gamers

The personal data of 1,600 gamers who registered to take part in a competition, have been leaked by Electronic Arts.


The competition’s website, EA’s FIFA 20 Global Series was launched on October 3, to which a glitch had been identified by the gamers straight away.


Gamers who had signed up were asked to enter their personal information to verify their EA account details, onto what was supposed to be an empty online form. However, the form displayed the personal information of other gamers who had already signed up for the competition.

According to screenshots posted online. the leaked data included player IDs, birthdays, email addresses and country of origin.


The website was allegedly taken down half an hour after it had been launched, however by then approximately 1,600 gamers had already registered.

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‘Where Next for Personal Data’, according to DMA MD Rachel Aldighieri

The Advertising Association’s recent event ‘Where Next for Personal Data’ brought experts from the entire industry together in one room to discuss the collection and use of data in creating value for all stakeholders involved.


The DMA’s MD, Rachel Aldighieri, was part of the panel discussion on how the government can use data to deliver effective public services and learn about data handling from the private sector, exploring the nature of data and how the future is looking for the protection and use of personal data.


She addressed three key points in detail: the importance of control, trust, and value.

1. Customers Demand Control

DMA research shows that the majority of UK consumers think that sharing data is part of modern society and close to two-thirds of people are happy with the amount of data they share – which despite some of the high-profile breaches and misuse of data – has stayed steady over the past six years.

2. Trust and the Data-Driven Economy

A data economy can’t exist without trust, and it is the main reason that customers are willing to hand their data over to brands. Of course, it’s a value exchange, but without that trust and assurance, most would shy away from sharing their data.

3. It All Comes Down to Value

Valuing data isn’t without its complexities. For example, who is creating value in a data-driven economy – is it the brand, the customer, or both?

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US college admissions offices rank prospects by web activity before they apply

Before many schools even look at an application, they comb through prospective students’ personal data, such as web-browsing habits and financial history


To learn more about prospective students, admissions officers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout turned to a little-known but increasingly common practice: They installed tracking software on their school website.


When one student visited the site last year, the software automatically recognized who she was based on a piece of code, called a cookie, which it had placed on her computer during a prior visit. The software sent an alert to the school’s assistant director of admissions containing the student’s name, contact information and details about her life and activities on the site.


The admissions officer also received a link to a private profile of the student, listing all 27 pages she had viewed on the school’s website and how long she spent on each one. A map on this page showed her geographical location, and an “affinity index” estimated her level of interest in attending the school. Her score of 91 out of 100 predicted she was highly likely to accept an admission offer from UW-Stout, the records showed.

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China has built 'massive global data-collection ecosystem' to boost its interests

What, exactly, is China doing sweeping up vast amounts of data from all around the world? Apparently attempting to bulwark the nation’s security, but most critically to secure the political future of the Communist party, a new report argues.


Engineering Global Consent, a policy brief by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Dr Samantha Hoffman, argues that the Chinese party-state seeks to influence – and where possible control – global online and political environments so that public sentiment around the world is more favourable towards its interests. China has expanded its operations of influence into organisations such as universities in the UK, the US and Australia.


The report says the CCP has established a “massive and global data-collection ecosystem” that uses state-owned enterprises, Chinese technology companies and partnerships with foreign actors and institutions – including western universities – to further its interests.

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