I was interviewed by The Hindu newspaper last week and this is the resulting article published yesterday 🙂
This is the version with photo.
You know today is a pretty special day. It is exactly one month since my daughter Ivy checked-out and joined us, pappa and myself in this exciting world. Exciting because it feels today as though we have come over a challenging and most beautiful month and feel a real achievement. We are learning how Ivy likes things and Ivy is getting quite at home with the way we run things.
Other things linked to privacy have been interesting since Ivy’s birth.
1. I have during the pregnancy and afterwards needed to provide blood tests on many occasions and each time need to remember to ‘opt-out’ of them holding my blood in a blood bank somewhere. I am sure I forgot to do the opt-out once, and I need to check this. This was quite annoying.
2. In my book Virtual Shadows I said that all new-borns in Sweden provide a ‘blood-spot’ that is used in research for PKU. My experience now shows that this is the case although what I didn’t know before is that you can opt-out. This is what we did with Ivy.
3. Ivy got a personal ID number assigned which arosed a conflict of emotions both as a parent and privacy avocate. As a parent a sense of pride that my Ivy really existed as a Swedish citizen in the system, as a privacy avocate.. well no explanation needed there.
4. We bought a ‘child-alarm’ as we live in a big house and we could chose between audio or audio/video. I am dismayed that I chose the latter option. My need for Ivy’s safety in the case of Ivy seems to have overriden her need for privacy. Having said that the video stores nothing, and in practice I think it was a waste of money, we normally hear her crying before the video switches itself on anyhow triggered by the noise. I still think an audio version is a good choice. The video just gives a false sense of security.
5. Sweden has centralised their health records a little like what the U.K. has been trying to do against massive public resistance. I am in principle against this, but it does have its benefits so long as you trust the data holding authorities. The benefits became apparent when access to my medical records were needed urgently when I became very ill (that led to an early arrival for my daughter :-)). Again I am faced with the conflict of my safety vs. the right for privacy, and the need to trust those holding my private information. I have no choice but to trust the Swedish authorities, but I am not sure I would trust the British authorities centralisation efforts. Here we are looking at consolidation of 64m (living) health records not just 9 million as in Sweden. Even if you did trust the British authorities to have the right intentions, in practice if the business processes are not working today, how can technologies applied to flawed business processes be expected to protect the confidentality and integrity of your personal data?
You know it has felt pretty wierd to be a new parent in Sweden. When I am presenting at conferences I often joke that in Sweden not only are babies born with 5 fingers, toes and those vital organs needed to survive but also with a personal number. In fact it is difficult to survive in Sweden without this although it is not compulsory.
The personal number is not so difficult to guess with date of birth followed by 4 random numbers, even if it is a girl and odd if it is a boy: YYMMDD-xxxx.
I have mixed feelings about this as although from a privacy perspective it goes against what I believe in. Regardless it is very convenient! What’s more I was surprised by my reaction as a new parent when Ivy’s personal ID arrived. I rushed over to Ivy’s pappa as a proud parent to share that Ivy now officially existed…in the system. It felt kind of good. Human nature can be somewhat wierd and is a part of the dilemma we all face when it comes to our privacy. …
The feeling of wanting to belong and feel safe versus our privacy.