This week in data – 23rd August

Damning reports have emerged this week that the British Government’s Home Office secretly acquired sensitive data from frontline charities on the nationality of homeless people in order to deport them. Internal emails from the Home Office acquired by journalists have shown that the department which requested the information asked whether the database could narrow down locations to even the postcode level. “We will use the maps in our authorities for deployment and briefings. Neither will be in the public domain but both would be susceptible to production on foot of a FoI request,” the email states.The sensitive information was kept in a database called “Chain”, which is used by charities and other agencies to help support homeless people. The government was given access to the database for six months, although charities protested the access and it was revoked in 2016.After the information was accessed, there was a 41% increase in the number of European Union nationals detained, along with a 42% increase in the number of people from central eastern Europe who were detained. Enforced returns rose by 8% for EU citizens.Human rights group Liberty has said it will make an official complaint about the use of the data to the European Commission.

In other news:

GDPR is fast approaching and with it, a global shift in the perception of consumer privacy.

At least, that’s the view of a new piece in The Guardian, which argues the upcoming EU data laws will have a huge, global effect on the perception of privacy. The crux being that any businesses which processes data belonging to EU citizens has to abide by the new laws.Why is that so important? The piece argues that because of the far-reaching powers of the laws – they expand the definition of “personal” data – many companies that operate outside the reach of data protection laws will need to abide by them.

And CSO explains why: even though only a third of Australian companies say they need to comply with the new laws, one European executive says everyone needs to start getting ready for May 2018.“Many companies won’t be ready when they should be,” says Alban Schmutz, vice president for development and public affairs with French cloud provider OVH.

This is as much a competition issue as it is a legal one. Schmutz points to the code of conduct currently being signed by major web services players like Amazon in anticipation of the laws, and says Australian businesses need to start getting ready or risk being left behind.

“Even if they are not fighting to access European markets, they will be affected in their own markets,” he says.

Speaking of data portability and protections, over in the United States a new group of 31 data and fintech companies is giving banks a message: hand over your information, or prepare for a fight.

Fintechs need banking data in order to provide better services, and they’re giving a message to consumers as well: start lobbying the banks, because this data is yours as much as it is theirs.

Mirroring the open banking regime discussions playing out between banks and fintechs in Australia, balancing the tension between data security and accessibility for consumers/fintechs remains the top issue for US banking data portability.

Worth a read:

  • Data-based tv advertising is taking over. During the upfronts – which the major American television networks use to sell advertising space for upcoming shows – data-based ad products saw a substantial increase in sales. Another sign data-based metrics and audience targeting are becoming worth more than traditional ad methodology.
  • You may not think Bitcoin is going to change much, but Blockchain? That’s disrupting everything. This piece on the Huffington Post posits a theory: every company in every industry is at risk of a version of itself that is powered by blockchain technology.

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