Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Personal data online - UK guidance issued

UK data protection regulator the Information Commissioner today issued his office's official Personal Information Online Code of Practice on privacy and data protection on the internet, following a consultation and summary of responses.

Personal information online guides - direct links

Here are direct links to the info you'll need, in a usable format - in this instance PDF -

  1. Personal information online code of practice, Information Commissioner's Office, July 2010
  2. Personal information online - small business checklist, Information Commissioner's Office, July 2010
  3. Protecting your personal information online, Information Commissioner's Office, July 2010 - short guide for individual consumers.

Feel free to skip this usability rant

I listed the links above to make life easier for readers because unfortunately the IC press release links to an (accessibility- and user- unfriendly) ebook, which you can only print out page by laborious page - all 40-odd of them. Furthermore it's stored using a folder structure or redirect which seems to assume they'll only ever have one ebook, which means any saved or bookmarked links to that document would break in future when they publish more papers in ebook format, if they want to give the files names which help indicate the content.

My own "Providing public information online code of practice" would require online press releases of all government departments and regulators (and indeed anyone else who publishes information on the web or by email) to link to a single webpage per publication, which in turn lists links to the different versions of the document - webpage HTML as well as PDF  - clearly indicating which link opens which file format. And, if they must, by all means do also include links to Flash-y things or ebooks which are DRM'd to the hilt so that users can't easily print or copy and paste extracts from them. But even then, HTML and PDF versions ought still to be made readily available in addition. (How many people in the UK have ebook readers anyway? Maybe in 5 years press releases linking by default to ebooks might make some sense.)

Press releases should always be published as simple web pages i.e. in HTML format as well as PDF too. Here endeth (nearly) the usability rant.

I am reminded of the recent news that UK government departments spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on developing iPhone apps even though (just by the number of handset sales in the first quarter of 2010, according to Gartner) Nokia has a 35% market share and Apple just 2.7%.

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