Privacy International slams government data sharing law


Privacy International slams government data sharing law

Antony Savvas

Privacy International has slammed the government's proposed new data sharing law, which it says will create open season on citizens' private data.

When introducing the law, the government said it would make it easier for government departments to share information, mainly for the benefit of citizens receiving government benefits and services.

It would also make it easier to fight crime, said the government. Privacy International though says the proposed law would make data given to private companies less secure and ride roughshod over the controls put in place by the UK Information Commissioner.

The organisation said, "Of the hundreds of issues engaged each year by Privacy International, a small handful stand out because of the fundamental risk they pose to the foundations of privacy protection.

"The UK government's proposal to legislate, in its 'Coroners and Justice Bill', for wide-scale sharing of personal data is one such instance, and internationally is the first occasion in recent months that we have seen an example of risk at such a fundamental level."

It said, "The mass exchange of personal information has the potential to deliver some benefit however, it also presents vast risks associated with governance, privacy, security and human autonomy. In the rush to institute data sharing, these aspects have largely been ignored."

Privacy International has published a report on the threats it says the bill poses to privacy.

According to Privacy International, the problems with this law are:

  1. It is based on an illegitimate consultation process over a ten-year period, created to justify whatever the government drafted into law. Even the Information Commissioner's Office has been compromised.
  2. Avoids parliamentary scrutiny by pushing orders through secondary legislation.
  3. Consists of meaningless protections and oversight, where the ICO may provide comments to parliament in a process where parliament is not permitted to amend the order.

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