Editorial: need to know or nice to know

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Photo: techlicious.com

Banks have begun to demand data from customers which, among other things, concern relatives' links to state offices. If we present not the data, we can't use the bank services. The clients are disturbed, and understandably so. The banks say they aren't after the data on their own initiative but according to laws and regulations. Data protection Inspectorate says banks need to update client data to comply with Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act.

In short, the conflict goes like this: the banks say they are only fulfilling obligations laid on them. The people feel the privacy threshold has been crossed – not that they have anything to hide, but the requirement is incomprehensible. Ergo, the need for the added data has not been amply explained to the clients and thus the trust disruption is ensured.  

To define the disruption, we have to go back a bit. Overall, the asking-of-information principle should be knowing as much as is needed and as little as possible. The need to know/nice to know limit, altered indeed by the changed content and amount of data, must be clearly marked down. The difference has a serious background to it as related to the understanding of privacy and ethics. A breaking point here being the 3013 Edward Snowden revelation on NSA of USA blanket snooping.

Who would dispute the right to the state or some institution to have some data on people in order to ensure their security. Crimes aside, it is mostly to be sure if the people are who they claim to be. Like the banks needing to ensure that only owner of an account has access. Broadly, that’ll be all.

There are the exceptions, but every step from there is a step farther from trust. If to take such steps there are lawful reasons, these must be made plain and clear to people. Otherwise, inevitably the trust is damaged.