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Government may be breaching Human Rights Act with data breaches, say MPs

Antony Savvas

The government may be abusing the Human Rights Act as a result of recent government data breaches, says a report from the parliamentary Joint Committee On Human Rights.

Personal data must be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA). The Human Rights Act (HRA) safeguards the right to respect for personal information and lapses in data protection may contravene the HRA, says the committee.

"The committee has repeatedly expressed concerns - mostly rejected by the government - about the adequacy of safeguards on the sharing of personal information in specific bills," says the report.

The report goes on, "The committee agrees with the Information Commissioner that data sharing is not, in human rights terms, objectionable in itself. But it inevitably raises human rights concerns. Government must show that any proposal for data sharing is justifiable and proportionate and that appropriate safeguards are in place."

Once reviews of data protection legislation and practice have been completed, the committee expects the government to take action "to foster a positive culture for the protection of personal data by public sector bodies".

Anyone affected by recent government data breaches could use the Committee on Human Rights report to support legal action brought against the government.





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