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Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

data protection: public consultation into data sharing

8 January 2008

Data protection law is not often headline news. The recent high profile losses of personal information being shared by various public authorities - most notably the loss by HMRC of the personal information of 25 million people whilst en route to another public authority - has, however, put an end to that. Richard Thomas, who heads the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) (that oversees and enforces the Data Protection Act) summed up the sea-change that needs to take place:

"Twenty five million records going missing from the HMRC is one of the most significant breaches in the history of data protection. This incident and its aftermath mark a turning point for data protection in the UK…The UK Data Protection Act provides the framework to handle personal information correctly. …the onus is on every organisation - and every leader within that body - to ensure there are clear lines of accountability to stop things from going badly wrong."

Whats in this public consultation document?

The release by the Ministry of Justice of the public consultation document on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors is therefore very timely. The consultation, which ends on 15 February, is in the form of a questionnaire and any organisation may respond. It asks for views on a number of key areas, including:

  • The benefits of information sharing
  • Actual or perceived problems with information sharing
  • The effectiveness of the current framework under the Data Protection Act 1998 for the sharing of personal information
  • What further powers, safeguards and sanctions should be included in the Data Protection Act 1998

The consultation document notes that not all of these questions will be of relevance to all respondents. Your organisation may still submit a response by answering those questions that are most relevant to it.

Why might my organisation want to respond to the consultation document?

In addition to your organisations right to respond to the public consultation, the document has been sent to a broad spectrum of organisations from public authorities (who regularly share personal information as part of their statutory functions) through to pressure groups and campaign bodies.

With the types of questions noted above in mind, it seems likely that the responses will shape any proposed changes to the Data Protection Act 1998. It is key that the Ministry of Justice receives views as to why fair and lawful sharing of certain personal information is often key to public authorities successful fulfilment of their statutory obligations. Your organisation may well be best placed to inform the debate on this. Likewise, your organisation may also have had experience of areas where information sharing conflicts with the rights and freedoms of individuals. These experiences are no less important to inform the debate.

How can my organisation respond to the public consultation?

The Ministry of Justice have provided a response form which your organisation can use. This can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/

training and events

3Dec

Dynamic workforces: Workforce wonders - unlocking the secrets to a healthy, happy team Online event

Join us for our two-part dynamic workforces webinar series. In part one, we will look at life pre-Covid and reflect upon the typical workforce dynamics at play – productivity, stress, flexibility, wellbeing. Have these things improved during the pandemic, and how have we adapted to ensure that our people are resilient, ambitious and happy?

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8Dec

EdCon 2020

We’re delighted to invite you to join us at EdCon 2020 - Browne Jacobson’s first virtual conference for schools and academy trusts.Taking place over three days this December, EdCon 2020 will provide you with inspirational ideas, up-to-date advice and guidance and networking opportunities with one key purpose: creating great places to learn and work.

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Conservation newsletter - November 2020

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Pushing water uphill? Water Quality and the 25 Year Environment Plan

The government has outlined an ambitious target for improving the quality of water, and based on its own progress report and the Environment Agency’s results, it faces an increasingly uphill challenge to meet these goals.

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Webinars

Dynamic workforces: Workforce wonders - unlocking the secrets to a healthy, happy team

Join us for our two-part dynamic workforces webinar series. In part one, we will look at life pre-Covid and reflect upon the typical workforce dynamics at play – productivity, stress, flexibility, wellbeing. Have these things improved during the pandemic, and how have we adapted to ensure that our people are resilient, ambitious and happy?

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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