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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Government breaks law

The Sunday Times reports on research by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to be published tomorrow that has concluded that at least 10 of the giant government databases built or planned by ministers unlawfully breach privacy.

The Trust believes that the computer registers, including the DNA database, the national identity register, the Contactpoint child protection database and the health service patients’ register, all breach human rights and data protection laws:

The report, whose joint author, an academic expert on privacy at Cambridge University who is one of the most respected in Britain, warns that ministers are planning to spend a further £100 billion on information technology databases over the next five years while only 30% of big information technology projects succeed.

Claims by the government that the databases make the provision of public services such as health easier are dismissed as “illusory”.

In fact, the giant repositories of personal data can expose people to greater risk, particularly the most vulnerable, the research says.

More than half the nearly 50 state databases have “significant problems” in protecting privacy, it adds. Only one in seven of the databases assessed by the study was “effective, proportionate or necessary”.

The report says Britain is alone among developed countries in the pace at which it is expanding national database systems. The Government's reliance on big computer projects and databases is both dangerous and expensive. It is a major threat to civil liberties and to our privacy especially if they are unable to keep to their own rules and laws.


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