Monday, 2 March 2009

More rubbish about "theft" of data

Six out of every 10 employees stole company data when they left their job last year, said a study of US workers, the BBC reports.  Once one would have expected better of the BBC, but its standards are now bad - but the standards of most of the rest of the media are appalling, so we must consider the BBC's use of English in context.

A quick look at the Theft Act 1968 (much amended, but still the important statute) tells us:

1. Basic definition of theft

(1) A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to
another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘theft’ and ‘steal’
shall be construed accordingly. (Italics added.)

Journalists don't seem to take account of the second part of the definition, and it certainly makes for a better story if you can write about "data theft" or "copyright theft", but it's another manifestation of the disturbing trend towards absolutism.

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