Is it just me? Has anyone else noticed that society isn’t as careful with the data we share in public these days?

I used to work for a bank. I had it drilled into me that there were no acceptable instances in which private data could be shared with third parties. I had to be careful where and when I spoke to customers to make sure we weren’t overheard, documents were shredded in accordance with guidelines and all security measures had to be adhered to at all times. In fact, all of my full-time employment has required a large element of care with data protection issues. I have previously worked in the telecommunications and higher education industries. Both of which deal with sensitive information that could be used maliciously in the wrong hands. Whilst working for a university, I ensured that when in a public facing role, my screen never faced towards the customer area, to make sure no one apart from myself could see the information on the screen, and if I needed to show the student something I would make sure no third party could see the screen. This is not a courtesy I get in return from many companies I deal with in my personal life.

Specifically, this week I changed banks. The current trend for branches seems to be accessibility and barrier-free. In my branch, this means free-standing counters with no glass/barriers to allow private conversations. The counter was manned by two members of staff and customers were standing less than 3 feet apart. I had to provide proof of my identity and give personal information and yet I had to do it at this very public counter. I was tempted to ask to move away from the counter to a more private area but as all other desks were equally as public I was thinking – rock/hard place. So I had to whisper. Which lead to a longer conversation as they couldn’t hear what I was saying! I could hear, word for word, the conversation between another customer and staff, so knew my voice would be heard. The other customer was withdrawing £1000 cash… I don’t think they wanted all and sundry to know they were walking around a high street loaded with cash! In terms of safety, I wouldn’t be a happy staff member knowing that there was nothing protecting me from a disgruntled customer or worse.

Can we all start being a little bit more careful with personal data? Please?!