• Tracey Twynham

Data in the News – September 2020

UK Government publishes new strategy to kickstart data revolution

A new National Data Strategy has been launched which is designed to boost the use of data to drive growth, boost innovation, create new jobs and improve public services.


The new strategy will put data at the heart of the country’s recovery from the pandemic so companies and organisations can use it to drive digital transformation, innovate and boost growth across the economy.


The strategy, which lays out five priority ‘missions’ the government must take to capitalise on the opportunities data offers, is a central part of the government’s wider ambition for a thriving, fast-growing digital sector in the UK.

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UK consumers put a price on privacy

New research from OpenText reveals that nearly half (49%) of UK consumers would pay more to do business with an organisation that is committed to protecting their data privacy – surpassing Germany (41%), Spain (36%) and France (17%).


The new data – from a survey of 2,000 UK respondents – highlights public uncertainty and distrust around how organisations handle their data. Almost half (45%) of the British public don’t trust that organisations can keep their personal data safe or private. This is despite increasingly stringent standards for data privacy as new regulations emerge worldwide, including the 2018 introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Severe GDPR infringements can result in fines of up to €20m or 4 percent of a company’s total global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

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Public Health England will keep personal data of people with coronavirus for 20 years

Personal data about people with coronavirus, collected by the NHS as part of the test-and-trace programme, will be kept for 20 years according to a privacy notice posted by Public Health England.

Information including full name and date of birth, as well as phone numbers and home and email addresses, will be collected and stored for people with coronavirus, or symptoms of Covid-19, alongside data about those symptoms.


Those who have been identified as contacts of people with coronavirus will have all but their date of birth collected and stored for five years.

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A data fail left banks and councils exposed by a quick Google search

Private details relating to more than 50,000 letters sent out by banks and local authorities were indexed by Google after a London-based outsourcing firm left its system hopelessly exposed. Details about everything from insolvency to final reminders of unpaid council tax and mortgage holidays were left available for anyone to view since June.

Thousands of names and addresses – and the types of letters they were sent – were left exposed, affecting people in the UK, US and Canada. Virtual Mail Room, the firm responsible for the data breach, worked for clients including Metro Bank, 14 local councils, the publisher Pearson and insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor. The specific content of the letters sent to individuals were not visible.

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The ICO Data protection and coronavirus information hub

The ICO has produced a very useful data protection and coronavirus information hub. Containing material on a range of topics including information rights, data protection and use and storage of personal data. The information hub is designed to help individuals and organisations navigate data protection during this unprecedented time.

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And finally …


Public sector 'risking GDPR violations' by overworking DPOs

Public sector data protection officers (DPO) have been put under much greater strain since the rollout of GDPR, with swelling workloads not being matched with additional resources. The lack of extra staffing for data protection teams, including central government and public sector agencies, is stretching workers too thinly and may result in GPDR violations if left unaddressed, research by eCase claims.

Although 70% of data protection officers (DPO) working across central government and public sector agencies reported a significant increase in their workloads, 40% reported their team sizes staying roughly the same.

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