Myth Number One

Nothing to hide? Nothing to worry about! Really?

If you have nothing to hide, then please send us details of your bank account, PIN numbers, mother’s maiden name, user names, your medical records (including any embarrassing illnesses), a copy of your driving licence, a list of all your convictions (including motoring), your tax return, name and address of your employer (if any), names, ages and addresses of your family members, your mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses and computer passwords. That will do for now.

Do you still think you have nothing to hide?

In 1936, the Jews in Germany were told that if they had nothing to hide, they had nothing to fear. Need we say more?

We all have information that we wish to keep private. There is nothing wrong with that! The problem is that the organisations to which we give our data, don’t take as good care of them as we do. Incidentally, ‘data’, is a plural word; the singular is ‘datum’. Look at the small selection of press headlines on this page or take a peek into our archive.

Myth Number Two

Many organisations think that once we provide our personal data to them, they become their personal data and they can do whatever they please with them - even sell them. Many believe that ‘data protection’ means protecting our data from us! Many refuse to disclose our data to us and will try every trick in the book to stop us finding out what data they hold on us and what they are doing with them. Maybe there is an innocent reason for this, but maybe there isn’t.

Every day, you give your personal information when you shop, accept loyalty points, pay by credit card, carry out a bank transaction, apply for a job and so on. Do you really know how your information is being used or misused?

The best advice is:

  • not to provide information in the first place. This isn’t always possible, of course, so your second strategy should be 
  • to keep your data safe.
  • you should find out what personal data organisations hold on you, what they are doing with them and to whom they have passed the data.
  • finally, rectify any inaccuracies

More Myths From The ICO

The Office of the Information Commissioner has described some common data protection myths including some case studies which have recently appeared in the media.

"Data protection law reinforces common sense rules of information handling, which most organisations try to follow anyway. It is there to ensure that organisations manage the personal information they hold in a sensible way. Some organisations understandably err on the side of caution and do not release information when they could do so. Unfortunately, some organisations continue to use the Data Protection Act 1998 as an excuse not to do something, rather than seeing it as good business sense to treat their customers and their information with respect."

We completely agree.