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The Data Protection Acts aim to make us the Author of our own life

A pencil is a communication tool

Just a quiet little note about Data Protection- a subject I frequently refer to but haven’t addressed directly.

Usually, any mention I do make about Data Protection is concerned with how to use the Acts as a tool to extract information you want. The legislation is certainly useful for that- though after a decade of using them, Data Access Requests still seem to arrive as a shock to their recipients. But it’s worth remembering that those tools were created in the service of a principle.

That principle is pretty straightforward: You are an autonomous person, deserving of respect and dignity. You are not a commodity to be bought, sold or traded without consent. And, if we accept that information about ourselves- our reputation- is a part of who we are, then it follows that ought not to be commoditised either.

That statement of principle needs to be restated and reinforced whenever it can be. It requires us all to take on quite a lot of responsibility for ourselves. If we’re to be asked how we’re willing to allow our data to be used- as opposed to allowing companies to trade it how they like, without us even knowing- we can expect to have to make a lot more decisions.

That pressure of being asked to make decisions over and over again in a week takes a toll. Barack Obama buys multiple identical suits and alternates wearing them just to avoid having to make an extra decision in his day.

But if we’re going to hold to the core principle of Data Protection- that we are the owners of the stories of our lives- we’re going to have to get used to deciding what we want that story to be and who we want to share it with.

And I think we should appreciate anything that recognises we have a right to be the author of our own lives.