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Data Mining – who is accountable when data is abused and misused?


As Lyons, (2007, p.187) reveals “while some assume that it is the responsibility of customers to protect themselves from the consequences of the use, misuse or abuse of their data, it seems more reasonable to argue that the organisations that process the data should be held accountable for how they use them.  After all, they have the technical expertise that few ordinary people cold hope to gain, they are the ones who benefit from the processing of the data (frequently more than those whose data are processed) and they control the large scale systems that carry out the surveillance in the first place.  The imperative of transparency is ever more urgent.  Self protection may have it’s place, but the accountability of data processing organisations is more to the point given the disparity of power between individuals and organisations.  But even “transparency” is the sense of giving notice that persons are under surveillance, while a good start, is insufficient…  Transparency and openness hint at something further: the possibility of active involvement of those under surveillance in determining the conditions under which certain kinds of surveillance are appropriate.”

The EU operates a concept called “Consent”.

Consent, and the “right to be forgotten”, are critical concepts, to balance the disparity of power between companies and ordinary people.

In the UK, the “Sale of Goods Act”, acted to redress the imbalance of power between the manufacturer, and the end consumer, so too, we need legislation to redress the imbalance of power between those multi billion dollar companies who data mine our personal data, and the powerless individual.

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