Your shout: Mifid, the UK's education system, IT estate measurement, political representation of IT

Mifid, the UK's education system, IT estate measurement, political representation of IT, NHS data sharing

Firms must take a holistic approach to compliance

Peter Redshaw, research director, Gartner

With reference to the article on Mifid concerning the possibility of vexatious attacks and the need for more sophisticated storage techniques, I would like to add some points for clarification.

First, on the subject of vexatious attacks, the need to monitor trading activity for signs of suspicious patterns of activity, possibly malicious, is only analogous to what is already done by credit card operators and banks for anti-money laundering. I would not suggest that financial services firms deploy exactly the same kind of software.

Nor would such vexatious attacks be intended to directly defraud a firm, but more likely to damage its reputation. Systematic failure to give best execution (after frequent changes in execution policy or trading in unusual asset types) if referred would be hard for even the most lenient regulator to ignore.

Second, on storage, the many compliance initiatives that firms face (not just from Mifid) mean that they need a holistic policy that avoids creating any new silos of data and is advanced enough to retrieve all the data needed to reconstruct a trade's lifecycle years after the event. A holistic storage policy would utilise a single logic and be able to link compliance, risk management and even customer relationship management processes.

UK education system in danger of being left behind

Edward Tippelt

The article by Karl Flinders on IT education, demonstrates an apparent lack of contact by Liberal MP John Pugh with the realities of UK education.

After years of meddling with our education system, the government is facing a serious loss of experienced teachers, leading to mainstream subjects such as Physics A-level having to be taught (badly) by videoconferencing.

Many schools are no longer able to maintain their teaching headcount, leading to reductions in many courses, including IT. This has led to an increased emphasis, at A-level and university level, on personal study, rather than formal lectures, because of the lack of staffing or the need to cut costs.

The lack of staff time and staff skills impact the ability of schools to deliver the training required to create the next generation of programmers. Teaching students the ability to think for themselves is now a lost art, and I fear for the ability of the UK to compete with other better-educated nations.

Automated discovery tool to streamline acquisitions

Richard Muirhead, chairman and chief executive, Tideway Systems

In your strategy clinic "How do you map out and research the IT estate of an acquisition target?", I was surprised that none of the panel recommended using an automated discovery tool to map applications to infrastructure, including the dependencies between them.

Application dependency mapping can perform a continuous audit on an infrastructure, automatically discovering all the components - applications, hardware and software - on a daily and hourly basis. This can replace expensive, slow and error-prone manual processes and provide a 360-degree view of the IT estate.

Committing substantial man hours and expense to gathering information that may well be irrelevant by the time the deal is closed will not deliver the value firms are looking for.

A eulogy for IT lobbying at the party conferences

Dick Vinegar

Regarding Philip Virgo's blog post, "The missing ghost at the party conferences", I became addicted to IT-oriented fringe meetings 10 years ago, and, like Virgo, I regret the passing of IT lobbying at the party conferences.

They were a good way for grassroots activists to moan about IT policies. This year there are plenty of grassroots worries, with child porn, cyberbullying, grooming, firms banning Facebook etc. And of course there are the patients who are not getting any better care from the billions spent on NHS IT, and worries about whether the billions to be spent on ID cards will stop terrorism or improve public services.

But, as Virgo says, there will be few fringe meetings where activists can express these worries.

Legal position misused with NHS data sharing

Terri Dowty

I write regarding Tony Collins' blog post on Bolton Primary Care Trust's testing of the primary care record.

The instructions sent by Bolton to GPs include the advice that parents may opt out on behalf of their children, but in the case of an older child, if the parents choose to opt out the GP should make an appointment to see the child and decide if the child is "Frazer competent" and the parents can be overruled.

This is a misunderstanding of the legal position, which is in any case about "Gillick competence" - Lord Fraser being the lead judge in the House of Lords case. He delivered a judgment that a child could consent to certain medical procedures so long as certain criteria were met - not least that the child themself refused any parental involvement and the clinician could not persuade them otherwise.

He warned that the judgment should not be seen as a licence to disregard parents' wishes whenever it was expedient to do so, and that he would expect a clinician to be disciplined if that were the case.

It is alarming how often Gillick competence is being misused in order to justify data sharing. Moreover, although a GP is qualified to assess a child's competence to consent to a medical procedure, they are no more qualified to assess competence to consent to data storage and sharing than any of us.

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