Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Only 15% of UK Public Sector Databases Respect Privacy Laws

According to a report published this week by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust in the United Kingdom, 11 of the 46 biggest public sector databases maintained by the British government, including the national DNA database, clearly breach data protection and privacy rights laws.

The Trust funds work on civil liberties and democratic reform.

Some of the findings:
  • Fewer than 15% of the public databases assessed in this report are effective, proportionate and necessary, with a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions.
  • Britain is out of line with other developed countries, where records on sensitive matters like healthcare and social services are held locally. In Britain, data is increasingly centralised, and shared between health and social services, the police, schools, local government and the taxman.
  • The benefits claimed for data sharing are often illusory. Sharing can harm the vulnerable, not least by leading to discrimination and stigmatisation.
The report divides the examined databases into categories such as Code Red (in breach of the law, should be scrapped), Code Amber (significant problems, perhaps unlawful; may need to be shrunk, or split, or individuals may have to be given a right to opt out), and Code Green (in line with privacy and human rights laws).

Of the 46 databases, only 6 were given a Code Green rating.

More information:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:31 pm


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