Saturday, 28 November 2009

Time for a DPA Detox – or a Wii

It’s the beginning of the festive season, and it's also been an exceptionally busy week, with my usual DPA work being augmented by two drinks receptions and two launches. And one of those events has spawned an idea that might make my fortune. Well, someone’s fortune, anyway.

Before I turn to that idea, I ought to point out that one of the receptions I attended this week was a real challenge if you were dyslexic. It was held in a building that was hosting a slightly different reception on the concourse above, and members of both groups spent sometime rather wistfully wondering if they should have been mingling with the other lot. The event I attended was signed “ICO reception”, and the star guest was the new Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham. Just above and behind us, party guests were attending an event signed “IOC reception”, where the star guest was the Princess Royal. We appeared to be enjoying our food and drink to a much nosier extent that that crowd upstairs, so every now and again disapproving glances were sent in our direction. We didn’t care, though. Hardly any of that lot appeared fit enough to actually participate in the Olympics – I think they must have been the Olympic accounts teams, or something. They were eating a lot of pies. But if you wanted to mingle with real royalty, rather than DPA royalty, you had (literally) to be above us rather than on our level.

Both launches I attended this week were significant. Stewart Room’s book on “Data Security : Law & Practice” (attended by Lords, Ladies and the great and the good of the data protection world at the offices of Field Fisher Waterhouse) should give us all some very useful indicators as to the possible direction of regulatory travel. Designed for the professional, I do hope that it's going to be a very useful place for me to start from to locate that reference to that thing that’s on the back of my mind. It ought to be an essential piece of kit for everyone who regularly attends data protection events. The second launch, in the River Room at the Millbank Tower, by the Tate Gallery, was for the ICO’s new plain English guide to data protection, this time a more down-to-earth look at the principles of the Act, using practical business-based examples. It’s the sort of publication designed for those who don’t usually attend ICO or data protection events, but who still ought to know a bit about the legislation.

But my mind was most taken this week by another event – this one where I must have been invited to by mistake, as there were hardly any data protection folk there at all. At this particular party, though, a group of extremely highly paid solicitors were laying Wii golf. And this is where I had my idea. Why Wii golf, I thought to myself? Why don’t those good folk a Nintendo develop a Wii DPA game? Surely that would be a best seller.

On the train back home I started to develop a few basic concepts for the game. Were the players to be people fighting to get their Subject Access Rights, or perhaps they were DPA Officers dealing with an ICO Assessment – or trying to register all their processing purposes, etc. Then every now and again we could have a new set of DPA policies suddenly descend upon us all, or a job offer from another company, where we could start again and create a data protection concept from new. Points could be awarded for attending DPA conferences, double points for speaking at these conferences, and triple points for actually saying something new at the conferences. Points could be deducted for each data breach (for which there was an element of corporate responsibility), and they could be won for creating new measures what made it harder for data breaches to occur, but which actually let the business carry on and do some business.

Yes, I thought to myself. A DPA Wii would be a brilliant way of guiding people through the data protection maze. Let me give more thought to the concept. And if it ever hits the streets – watch the date of this posting – as I’ll be demanding my IP rights, if any IP lawyer wants to help me out (on a conditional fee basis, of course).