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UK government to probe data sharing

12 December 2007  |  1216 views  |  0 Source: Ministry of Justice

A consultation into how personal information is used and shared in the public and private sectors has been launched today by Richard Thomas and Dr Mark Walport.

The consultation forms part of an independent review into the use and sharing of personal information announced by the Prime Minister on 25 October. It asks how and why information is shared and used; whether the Data Protection Act offers sufficient safeguards; what impact technological advances have had on the protection of personal information; and whether there are lessons the UK can learn from other countries.

The review, led by Dr Mark Walport and Richard Thomas, will assess how personal information is used and shared by organisations across the public and private sectors and how data sharing policy should be developed to ensure proper transparency, scrutiny and accountability.

It will report back in the first half of 2008.

Dr Mark Walport said: "Access to accurate information is key to many organisations' ability to be able to deliver services and meet their objectives. But when using personal, private information, the utmost care and security is required.

"The recent loss of millions of peoples' private details serves as a stark illustration of what can happen when this principle is not followed. This review will seek to establish when and how personal information should be used, what safeguards should be in place and whether the powers and sanctions available are adequate."

Richard Thomas said: "The review will be concentrating on information sharing. When do public bodies, in particular, need to make use of personal information held by others to do their job properly? Law enforcement, child protection and more personalised services may be examples. But we will need to assess the dangers if information is shared too freely."

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