DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Written by: Anđela Cvetković, Digital Quality Manager, DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
“Data are the new oil“; “Data will change the world”; “Data are the engine of the new industrial revolution“; “Data are almighty”; “Data are the new penicillin“… We hear so much about data that it’s only a question of time before mankind rolls up its sleeves and announces that the data will save the world from the situation it found itself in.
Well, speaking of data, lets dispel some illusions on what should and should not be said and why. Which data can be openly reported, which cannot, and why that is so.
The name clearly says it all, but there’s no harm in repeating it: “Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share alike”. There are a large number of uses for this data, but it is mostly used for increasing transparency, measuring policy impact, innovations… One of the most useful recent open data improving the lives of citizens is the map of polluted air in the city of Belgrade which measures the data from individual “Klimerko“ devices made by citizens in the framework of a project. In our field of work, some of the data from this category are: computer owning households sorted by income or households connected to internet sorted by settlement type. The currently hot open data is the COVID-19 statistics… Data is provided at daily and municipal level, but also aggregated. There is an additional open invitation to the citizens to propose their own solutions at this e-mail address: email@example.com. All ideas are welcome.
Confidential data is a colloquial term, in Serbia these are defined by the Law on Data Secrecy. Long story short, these are all data of interest for Serbia. You will find them marked as: top secret, secret, confidential or restricted. Confidential data are for example identities of SIA agents, restricted police documents withheld from the general public, etc. But keep in mind the following data which is not confidential and should be used to the maximum, since it supports prevention and good health. On this link you can find the distribution of the existing mammography equipment in Serbia: https://data.gov.rs/sr/reuses/prikaz-i-optmizatsija-rasporeda-mamografske-opreme-na-teritoriji-republike-srbije/. Get an exam as soon as all of this is over. Take your mom, your gran, aunt, neighbor, yourself and stay healthy. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I believe that by now we have all learned GDPR by heart and know quite well how to align with its requirements, but in case you are lagging behind, here‘s a link on our website that could prove helpful: https://directmedia.biz/rs/vesti/planiranje-puta-gdpr-usaglasenosti/. Additionally, in the graph below you can see the number of searches related to GDPR, i.e. its national counterpart – The Data Protection Law, during the previous year. Naturally, the highest peak coincided with the week that the Law came into force. This could potentially indicate that we were insufficiently informed or prepared in advance, but that is a story for another day.
Since we mastered the issue of confidential data (at least for the time being), the following question arises: Why is it important for those data to remain confidential, even in the current circumstances? It is well known that everybody’s medical records are considered confidential, due to ethical and legal concerns. Do the same rules apply to Covid-19, and out of the same reasons? Absolutely so. The same rules do and should continue to apply. And why is that so, especially when on social media we can find a deluge of posts demanding the names of infected people? This happens because people are afraid, and because we haven’t encountered these challenges before. Such fear is understandable. But what does that mean for the people infected? Apart from them being afraid themselves, being sick, ignorant of what is going to happen (and having in mind all the news items and stories from Italy, Spain, China and elsewhere) they will also be forever marked. They will be discriminated, stigmatized, unable to lead a normal life, and they could even face potential retribution. Imagine somebody flinching away from you in the street because of… We are all afraid so let’s not additionally endanger each other.
Here’s how it would look like in regular circumstances. You’ve graduated at a university of your choice, worked hard, found a job and your career is soaring. BAM!!! A revolution breaks out, all the degrees are annulled and you lose your job, get evicted because you can’t afford rent and end up sleeping on the streets. It would spell the end of the world for many. This might seem clichéd, but you can see the parallels. Rights once gained should not be demoted or annulled. The peak of Mont Everest, once you climb it, cannot turn into Avala in the next moment.
In place of conclusion, keep in mind that your address also falls under personal data. Your data that should be confidential, but right now your home (address) is the safest place in the world. So listen to the advice of my childhood’s favorite bear and stay at home. Be safe. And keep your data safe.