Monday, 3 August 2009


Twenty questions

The Guardian's Free Our Data campaign and the Ordnance Survey are locked in a bizarre game of Twenty Questions that demonstrates how innocent questions might lead to personal identification.

Having had their Freedom of Information Request to ascertain the author of a report declined, the campaign cheekily asked some more general questions about the author: do they work for the Government? Are they a foreign national?

What's curious is that the OS provided answers. Assuming Free Our Data go another few rounds at this, they should eventually have enough information to positively identify the author.

That demonstrates nicely how tricky the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts can be. I'm certainly not suggesting they're bad acts, but they're a whole lot more complex than they first appear and when an releases only limited information the chances are they're being careful to not breach regulations rather than deliberately hide something.

Posted by pab at 21:58 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!