In Ireland it used to be when you needed a good Regulator you couldn’t find one. That point is best left there as there may be a court case or two still to come down the tracks and we wouldn’t want to be accused of prejudicing the public’s view of what happened to our once solvent banking system and a once thriving economy due in some shape or form to an absent Regulator.
Now it’s regulation gone mad
The Data Protection Commissioner probably doesn’t like being called something as mundane as a Regulator; however she does rule on what we may and may not do with data. We’re plain talkers at ISME, so we call that regulation. Yesterday, included in the Data Protection Office annual report, is a warning to retailers that they are breaking the law if they share images or footage of alleged shoplifters between them.
Dixon of Dock Green
For those of you of a certain age one of the BBC’s most famous police serials was Dixon of Dock Green, which was about life at a London police station. Most of the crime was petty, all successfully controlled through common sense and human understanding. That common sense and human understanding has been overtaken by rules and regulations in Data Protection Commissioner Dixon’s report, where she says that “sensitive personal data in relation to an alleged offence may only be processed by each retail outlet itself for the purpose of pursuing legal action.” Where’s the common sense in that?
You’re about to be robbed but I couldn’t possibly warn you about that
We’re assuming that store detective Smith in Shop A is not allowed to tell the store detective Jones in Shop B who to keep an eye out for, probably by showing them images of Mrs. Bad? “Sorry sir, I’m not at liberty to indicate to you whether that lady about to enter your shop could or couldn’t , either now, in the past or in the future, might rob your shop”.
Commissioner Dixon’s report noted that there had been a marked expansion in the use of CCTV systems. D’oh!. They’re in every shop, bar, home, street…because they work. They have been successful in stopping and reducing theft and fraud. Shop lifting, or ‘slippage and shrinkage’ as the accountants euphemistically call it, is a massive cost to business. Using technology, sharing information and images, is one way to stem this crime wave. The report acknowledges that quality of images has improved hugely. That says that sharing images means you’re helping get the right guy. Good quality images means if you’re not shoplifting you have nothing to fear. Academic arguments about privacy for criminals - that chat can be had at the bar of a Summer School.
Maybe there should be a CCTV camera in the Commissioner’s offices to see why her staff has doubled in just two years. And worse, why she’s hoping to double that number again.