DATE November 4, 2020 11:58 am POSTED BY CATEGORY Blog

The Outsourced DPO – how not to chat someone up in 2020

Yesterday, a colleague sent the Outsourced DPO this link https://metro.co.uk/2020/09/10/bar-worker-messaged-model-after-getting-number-from-test-and-trace-13250543/.  Sure it happened in September so it may already be old news.  It reminded me of a case way back in 2011 (sometimes it pays to have been working in the field of data protection for decades!) https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-15885865 in which a hospital worker was prosecuted for contacting a woman on Facebook following her brief stay in an Edinburgh hospital after using her hospital records to make contact.

A few generations back it might have been considered quite sweet to put in some leg-work in order to contact someone you fancied, but these days it is perceived as creepy.  It’s also against the law if it involves the mis-use of personal data.  In both cases, the recipient of the unwanted messages was horrified to be contacted out of the blue.

Maybe it’s not the initial contact that is extremely offensive – perhaps the scary thought is that once someone knows your phone number and/or a few minor details about you, it is very easy for them to drill into your life.  Within a few clicks they know your friends, see your snaps, know what you like and your hobbies and, depending on how much of a poster you are, they could even discover where you live, work, how and when you travel between the two and your habits.

When the Outsourced DPO went to The Poorhouse and other local hostelries a few weeks ago to review the test and trace arrangements (and naturally to check-out the beer too), the visitors’ log book was managed by staff and hidden from view.  The ICO’s test and trace guidance for organisations is good, but arguably inaccessible to many small business operators: we can’t necessarily expect them to understand the nuances and application of data protection law.  In the spirit of unity that Covid-19 has brought about, the Outsourced DPO produced some free to use materials to help which we have been sharing with the small business community.  Some of them are on the DPP website – please contact us for further information or for other resources that you might need.  You don’t want to be the story being referred to in 10 years’ time!