Identity, Privacy and Trust

Feb 24 2009   9:17AM GMT

Coroners & Justice: Government “retreat” is an ambush

tobystevens tobystevens Profile: tobystevens

Data protection

The Independent reports that Justice Secretary Jack Straw is planning to amend the data sharing provisions of the Coroners & Justice Bill when it reached report stage next month, with the intention of including ‘new safeguards to protect the public.’ However, he continues to argue in favour of the proposed data sharing approach, which could, in his opinion, be justified by allowing individuals to notify DWP of a death just once rather than having to contact numerous government departments, or to allow those on school meal subsidies to claim towards the cost of a home PC without having to fill in financial status forms.

What he has chosen to overlook here is that since each of these cases is a fresh submission of personal information by the individual, a relevant fair processing notice could be issued for the particular case, accompanied by the individual’s consent to that one-time sharing. No legal change is required. The fact that the data sharing provisions even exist in the Bill can only continue to point to a deliberate move to expand the surveillance society and sell personal information for profit.

‘Safeguards’ didn’t work for the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and they won’t work here. Would you buy a car that had a 2ft sharpened steel spike in the middle of the steering wheel in place of an airbag, because the ‘safeguard’ of a seatbelt was in place? Of course not. And this data sharing approach is both equally daft and dangerous.

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