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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Prime Minister and the private sector non sequitur

    IWR reported today on Gordon Brown's "talks tough on data sharing" - behind his curious non-sequitur:
    "We should not fear the advent of the information age, and it should not lead us to abandon or fear for our values,"
    lay some good news (possibly). Only half a dozen years after a consultancy exercise about the sharing of public data, which came with the message that while we would be listened to, it was unlikely that anything we said would make a jot of difference, it seems that there may be hope that our data (as in: data ABOUT us) could be used and stored responsibility... perhaps even applying the Data Protection Act (although the prime minister's talk didn't seem to go quite that far):
    The prime minister called for a review on the way data is held in the public and private spheres.

    "I believe we need a wider debate across the public and private sectors about the right form of independent oversight and parliamentary scrutiny and safeguards," he said.

    IWR went on:
    Parliamentary legislation must draw on British tradition to ensure data protection for all citizens, according to Brown.

    "It is the British way to insist that we do all we can to protect individual citizens and their rights," he stated.

    Which should mean that we have the right to see what data is held about us, to ensure that it is correct and accurate, and to insist that errors are corrected. I suspect that we shall not have the right to do so freely, and I bet getting errors corrected is easier said than done, but - let's not be unduly cynical - it's a step in the right direction!

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