Silent Witness: silent on data protection officers
Silent Witness is a BBC crime drama about a team of forensic pathology experts and their investigations into various crimes – it's a bit like American hit shows Bones and Law & Order. In a recent episode, a cyber hacker steals the files of 30,000 patients from a hospital, and then extorts the hospital for payment. As medical secrets are leaked, several murders are tied to the data breach. In addition to the criminal investigations, boardroom drama ensues when the hospital chief is questioned about the (apparently awful) cyber security firm he selected. It was at this point that I turned to my husband in disbelief and said, "where on Earth is the hospital's data protection officer!?" Of course, television dramas are entitled their artistic licence. I'm not sure data protection officers make for enthralling plot devices, if I'm honest. But shows like this demonstrate just how mainstream data breaches, cyber security and hacking personal data have become. In fact, many non-lawyers are now familiar with at least some concept of data protection legislation. With just four months to go until the new General Data Protection Regulations ("GDPR") come into effect and replace the Data Protection Act 1998, here is a reminder as to when a private organisation is required by law to have a data protection officer ("DPO").