Wednesday 27 February 2013

Surely this can’t be because of data protection ...

If the Daily Mail is to believed (and I appreciate that’s a big “if”), then today I have come across another piece of evidence which indicates that European policy makers may well be incapable of agreeing on the meaning of some of the most important concepts of data protection law, like fairness and consent.

This blog is not designed to criticise the policy makers themselves – more it’s to point out that various communities within Europe have very different social and cultural expectations as to what is considered appropriate behaviour. And I’m all for local communities being able to respect their own cultural sensitivities.

The evidence is the report that policy makers in Berlin have recently decided that it is not appropriate for a German TV company to copy the format of the British TV series One Born Every Minute”, which follows  staff and patients on a busy maternity ward. Why? Well, evidently, because it was an invasion of privacy for newborn babies.

Given that, in the UK, the viewers only get to see each baby for a few seconds after their birth, it’s really hard to appreciate why their fundamental rights can take precedence over the rights of the nursing staff and the patients, who really are the focal points of the programme, and who would certainly have signed as many consent forms as any conscientious broadcaster would have created.

I do hope that this story is inaccurate. I do hope that the inference – which is that “German data protection rules ” have prevented potentially great TV programmes being made in Germany, is incorrect. 

And I am so glad that the bods at the Information Commissioner's Officce are evidently happy that the British version of One Born Every Minute” doesn’t breach any sensible UK data protection rules.

If the German viewers aren't allowed to see their own stories, hopefully they can pick up the British version, so that they can enjoy what they have been forbidden to create themselves.


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