The British Computer Society (BCS) has added its voice to a growing chorus of concern about the data sharing provisions in the Coroners & Justice Bill now going through parliament.
The BCS has written to MPs asking them to kill the bill, saying, “It drives a coach and horses through the Data Protection Act.”
The bill, now in the committee stage, contains provisions that allow the government to share personal data between departments. It is a cornerstone of the government's efforts to streamline processes and make administration more efficient.
But the Information Commissioner's Office and privacy advocates have expressed deep reservations, saying the powers it grants are too wide.
The BCS told MPs that paragraphs 152-154 and Schedule 18 of the bill ran counter to the intentions and provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, in particular by devaluing the principal of informed consent.
It said the bill “severely curtailed” the independence of the Information Commissioner, and doubted whether it would pass under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The BCS said that as it stood, the bill had “the potential to heighten the distrust citizens have of government and central initiatives, and thereby set back the efforts of government and its agencies to provide faster, more cost-effective public services using IT.
“The bill could have disastrous consequences in the hands of a less benevolent government,” it said.
The BCS has published its full position on its website.