Thursday, September 19, 2013

English Law Commission Consultation Paper on Data Sharing Between Public Bodies

The English Law Commission has issued a consultation paper on Data Sharing Between Public Bodies:
"Data sharing is a common part of modern governance and the delivery of public services. Public bodies collect large amounts of data from individuals and other organisations in the exercise of their various functions and share these data with other public bodies. There are reported to be significant obstacles to effective data sharing. It is not, however, clear whether these obstacles are the result of inadequacies in the legal regime governing data sharing or the result of a number of practical or cultural barriers (...) "

"In most other projects, we know that the law needs reforming. We are not certain that this is the case with this project. The problems with data sharing between public bodies may originate from a number of causes other than a deficit in substantive law, such as: a lack of guidance or education; insufficient technology; cultural blocks; inadequate organisation; or excessive sanctions. At this stage, we are carrying out a scoping exercise. The objective of this exercise is not to propose any reform to the current legal framework but to investigate the root causes of the reported obstacles to data sharing between public bodies. Once these causes are identified, we will decide whether a full law reform project is needed, and will make recommendations accordingly (...) "

"We are also clear that there would only be a problem if it is legitimate data sharing that is being prevented. There are legal aspects to this but it also raises matters of principle. Sharing cannot be legitimate if it is unlawful. The laws of data protection and confidentiality place limits on lawful sharing ...There are also questions as to whether public bodies should have the legal power to share data even where the sharing is not prevented by these prohibitions. There are important ethical limits on what the state should know about individuals at all; and further, on how information should be disseminated between different institutions within the state. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:39 pm

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