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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Government u-turn on data sharing

Yesterday's Daily Telegraph reports that Justice Secretary, Jack Straw has abandoned plans in the Coroners and Justice Bill that would have led to patients' confidential medical records being passed to third parties.

Instead he will try to reach a consensus on introducing a scaled-back version at an unspecified stage in the future. However that does not mean that he is off the hook:

Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said last night: "This is an extraordinary U-turn but we cannot be led into a false sense of security.

"We congratulate the Government on its decision, but it was inevitable given how badly the clause have been drafted and how morally corrupt its outcome would have been.

"Nobody should be under the illusion that the Government has changed its colours with regard to its zeal for surveillance. This could be merely a blip, so we all have to remain vigilant for the next assault of privacy."

Phil Booth, Director of the No2ID campaign, said: "This is a huge victory for the massive public backlash there has been over this. This one spot of rot has been scooped out, but we need a wholesale clearance of the Government's approach to personal data."

It is a useful victory but it has been hard won and there are still many other proposals in the pipeline that threaten our basic liberties.


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