Data unprotected

Annuaire pages blanches_18672

Arrive home to find that you’ve missed a call on the phone from an unfamiliar number?  No problem.  Just turn to the Pages Blanches (phone book) on the net and tap the number into the Annuaire inversé.  Your caller’s details will be revealed.  Try the same thing in the UK, and you’re up against data protection legislation. Although that always seems odd to me.  If you’d been in to take the call, you’d have known who it was ringing you.  Which is clearly the view they take in France.

Because Data Protection is clearly not big news here.

Recently, Malcolm and I went for blood tests.  A few days later I popped into our local surgery for a repeat prescription, and our doctor spotted me in the reception area.

‘Morning!  Have you a few moments?  I’ve got your blood test results here. Shall I go over them with you?’

‘No’ was not the right answer.  So she went though the lot, right there in the public area. Unluckily for the captive audience waiting to see one or other of the doctors, my results were very dull – nothing gossip-worthy there at all.

‘And since you’re here’ she continued, ‘I might as well tell you your husband’s results’.  And she did.  Malcolm’s results were dull too.  In fact I had the utmost difficulty in reporting back to him, because I forgot most of what she told me.

I’d barely recovered from the shock of that blatant disregard of data protection when I needed to visit the mairie, the town hall. Having done what I needed to do, I chatted idly to the official I’d gone to see.  Who told me, apropos nothing at all, that someone living fairly nearby had been admitted to a psychiatric ward.  I simply didn’t need to know.  In fact the person concerned was completely unknown to me at that time.  This time, I wasn’t so much shocked as scandalised.   I don’t expect to go to the mairie every time I want a good gossip.  I don’t expect to have to wonder whether our own lives are part of the common currency of official chit-chat.

Life in France?  Or just small town life?  I’ve done a bit of Googling, and data protection legislation certainly exists in France: just not so much down here, in the fin fond de l’Ariège.




8 thoughts on “Data unprotected”

  1. I’m with you. I guard my privacy and expect others to do the same. There are those close to me who say it’s because I’m an only child and don’t understand sharing. Many years ago I didn’t send our children to the village primary school, which would have been very convenient because when I went to visit the head teacher was happily gossiping about the other pupils and their families. Most of these people were known to me and I considered it to be very unprofessional.


    1. Oh, so you’re an only child too! We have a lot to answer for. Yes, I think I’d have had to reject the village school, though I’m keen on sending young children to their community school too, so it might have been a real dilemma


  2. Here in the states we have the privacy act and so on…we even have to sign a form at the doctors office so that I or my husband can receive each others information. Even while waiting to be seen they are not allowed to use your last name..ok, if you are there at the doctors and know me you will know my last name – right?? But it paid out for me, while waiting for about 15 minutes my name was called “Patricia”, so I got up and followed the nurse and even commented how quick that was, I hardly had to wait. Only to find out she had the wrong Patricia!! See how important last names are, so I got seen quickly while Patrica #2 who was not quick on the draw had to wait. I understand why things should be private and do like the idea of Jane Doe and everyone in the “burg” not knowing my history – but like anything our government officials go overboard with passing legislation. It should be common sense, but as we all know common sense died a long time ago.


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