Govt data strategy ‘deeply flawed’

The way government departments handle the public’s personal data has been branded “deeply flawed” , with people denied the chance to check what information the state holds on them.
So says a new report by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, which also warns that breaches in privacy are likely to “get worse in the future” as demand for personal information increases and new technology is developed for storing and sharing data.
The report, entitled Protecting Information Privacy, said it could be hard to hold anyone to account for errors in the personal data held or its misuse.
The Commission has recommended the Government makes current legislation simpler to understand for organisations and members of the public.
Geraldine Van Bueren, a commissioner for the Equality & Human Rights Commission, said: “The state is holding increasing amounts of information about our lives without us knowing, being able to check that it’s accurate or being able to challenge this effectively. This needs to change so that any need for personal information has to be clearly justified by the organisation that wants it.”
She added public authorities should check what data they have and that it complies with existing laws.
The Government recently revealed a new scheme, dubbed “midata”, in which it is collaborating with businesses across the financial services, utilities and telecoms industries to give consumers easy access to their digital data.
However, the initiative, the brainchild of consumer minister Ed Davey, does not include government data; only the information held by private companies.

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