back to article Thatcher’s data protection legacy: Just fill out this 16-page form

Successive UK governments have seen data protection more as a cost overhead to be minimised than as an essential protection for the individual in an electronic age. This view started with Margaret Thatcher’s first government and has endured for over three decades. During the 1970s, there were a number of white papers and …


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  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    We need your DOB for this process

    so please give me all your life details and bend over so we can 'protect' you with data protection laws

  2. Crisp

    I just need to know

    Your name, DOB, mothers maiden name, the first line of your address and postcode, and your password, for "Data Protection".

    Hang on. You called me. How do I know you are who you say you are?

  3. Magister


    There was an interesting programme on over the weekend; the commentator made the point that both the political far left and the far right have a vested interest in grabbing your details and using them to control you.

    Although I don't agree with everything Maggie did, she was very much in favour of cutting back on the huge bureacracy of governement to let people get on with their lives.

    Sadly, I think those days are far behind us. Perhaps we need a "Nosey Parker" icon?

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Control

      "political far left and the far right"

      "Politics" is not a straight line with the left to left and the right to right (far from each other) but a circle with the far right and the far left side by side, at 6 o'clock or 12 o'clock, if you want. Same mindset same methods same goals.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    So what you're saying is that we only have the current framework because the EU forced our hand. Well - that's interesting. A bit like of freedom of speech then. Maybe the EU is good for something :)

  5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Legislation of it's age

    IIRC, the original intent of the 1984 Data Protection act was mainly to enable people about whom information was being kept to be able to make sure that it was correct and what it was being used for, rather than for any other reason.

    It may seem difficult to believe these days, but the idea of data-mining was so far off the agenda as to be unimportant, at least outside of the Security Services. In 1984, computer systems were rarely networked, and datasets were stored in isolation from each other. Client-Server computing applications were still relatively rare, and the chances of being able to discover new aspects of peoples lives by joining datasets together was so difficult to be nearly impossible.

    I remember looking at the requirements to be able to change all copies of incorrect data with a degree of horror, as I had no practical way of re-writing data on system backup tapes.

    Fortunately, the only personal records I was responsible for were the login details of users of the computers I administered. The Data Protection officer for the Polytechnic where I was working judged that with a small amount of change, the login details (held without any identifying information about the user other than their name and the course they were on, which was implied by the naming convention) was exempt from registration, although we did go through the exercise of filling in the forms to document that the exercise had been completed.

    I was immensely grateful for this.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Legislation of it's age

      Sorry, you're glasses have misted up. Trafford Council was one of the first offenders to be caught, wot me mister? I ain't done nuffink, selling information from the electoral register and from other databases to interested companies. I think this was pre-web so can't find a link but the ability to peddle personal data was one of the carrots being offered to councils to try and sweeten the poll tax.

  6. Naughtyhorse

    let me get this straight...

    maggie didnt want data protection so the plod could continue to bug bruce kent, ricky tomlinson, terry waite and other dangerous subversives without warrants or oversight and with impunity, but then the threat to the city from the french and germans forced her hand???

    well that dosent sound like the maggie thatcher I came to know and love!

    Oh hang on a minute....

    ding dong la sorcière est morte

    ding dong die Hexe ist tot




    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: let me get this straight...

      I suspect she was as much -if not more so - horrified by the idea of setting up the quango to implement it as she was that it might limit the traditional roles of Special Branch etc.

  7. adnim
    Big Brother

    Just lie

    I tell my partner the truth, I tell my friends the truth, I tell my bank the truth, I tell the tax man the truth. As for the rest, I fabricate what I think they want to hear.

    I am sure nobody believes I was born on the 1st of January 1901. Mind you, if one looks close enough one might be forgiven for thinking so!

  8. Brennan Young


    Ideology getting in the way of ethics? But surely Peggy, you wanted to give democracy the best opportunity? Surprise surprise! Neoliberalism reveals itself to be a poisonous scum floating on the ocean of the struggle for true liberty. TINA? Just another totalitarian game dressed up as liberation. Who pays the rough men which enable us to sleep soundly? And who is 'us'? There is no such thing as society?

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