Birmingham City Council to give citizens control of their data


Birmingham City Council to give citizens control of their data

Rebecca Thomson

Birmingham City Council is considering giving citizens control over which public sector departments have access to their personal data.

The council wants to introduce individual information accounts to allow citizens to manage their own details and supply them to the council departments they want or need to connect up to.

Glyn Evans, transformation policy leader at Birmingham, said, "It changes the power balance - instead of the public sector being all-powerful, members of the public should feel they can influence things. They decide how they want government to join up by controlling their own account."

He said the project could be the way forward for the whole public sector, and an effective way to improve the public's trust in government's ability to manage their data.

Recent high profile failures in data security mean trust in government's ability to manage individuals' data is at an all-time low - but the government is looking to increase data sharing between different agencies and increase the amount of information held on people.

The answer, Evans said, is to make data services more customer-centric. "We need to make the public feel they have a measure of control over it, and we need to think about how to do that within the public sector."

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner's Office said, "Sharing information between departments can bring clear benefits to individuals, such as making it easier to access services. However, where personal information is shared it must be done so in a secure, transparent and responsible way. Public trust and confidence will be lost if information is not kept securely or if reasonable expectations of privacy are not met. Any system which is designed to hold and share personal details must have security in place that will protect individuals' personal information effectively."

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