Sunday 19 June 2011

Mulling over a close call? Sleep on it.

I’m often asked easy data protection questions, those where the answers just trip off the tongue. But what really like are the hard questions, those where you can’t just act on instinct – but instead, like a chess player, you need to think though the consequences of each of the many possible alternatives, before announcing what the preferred option is, and why. You know that, when you provide your answer, you will be passing unwelcome news to at least one of the stakeholders. But offering data protection advice is not the same as entering a popularity contest. A professional person is used to offering advice, even then they know that its stuff that some of the recipients may not want to hear.

I’ve been wondering what spiritual guidance John Lennon & Paul McCartney might have sought if they had ever been required to mull over a thorny data protection issue. It probably wouldn’t have been Mother Mary that they would have turned to, as I don’t think she would have known much about data protection legislation back in 1969, when most of the album from which the song which features her name so prominently was recorded. It was a time when The Beatles were asking themselves hard questions - the band broke up less than a year later.

Perhaps if Lennon and McCartney were to write a song about the pressures faced by data protection managers when being asked hard questions, they might have written lyrics like these:

When I find myself in times of trouble
Commissioner Graham comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, from some conference in Dundee.
And in my hour of darkness
He is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, from a conference in Dundee.
Let it be, let it be.
Whispering words of wisdom, from that conference in Dundee.

And when the broken hearted people
Confide that they’re stuck up a gum tree,
There will be an answer, but not just yet from me.
From their data they’ve been parted but there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, but not just yet from me
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, but not just yet from me

And when my customers get rowdy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Common sense comes through to me
Speaking words of wisdom, to those who pay my fee
Let it be, let it be.
I’ll speak those words of wisdom - Hey, it’s time to hear from me.

Image source:
From the album cover of Let it Be, produced by Phil Spector and released in May 1970.