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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

14Oct

ISBL regional Conference Sheffield

Browne Jacobson’s Associate Sophie Jackson discusses the rise in growth of SEN and the impact of this on schools. Please note that this event was postponed from June 2020.

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19Nov

CST Inaugural Annual Conference Hilton Metropole, NEC, National Exhibition Centre, Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham, B40 1PP

Come and meet the team at CST’s Inaugural Annual Conference this summer. Partner Nick MacKenzie will also be delivering a workshop on governance leadership.

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focus on...

Upcoming webinars

Keeping children safe 2020 – managing allegations and agency staff

In this webinar, our leading HR and safeguarding experts Emma Hughes and Dai Durbridge will provide you with all the information you need in order to meet your statutory obligations.

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Health and care transactions - the outlook

Browne Jacobson, Clydesdale Yorkshire Bank, Connell Consulting and Christie & Co are pleased to invite you to our webinar looking at the outlook for health and social care transactions.

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Managing PFI assets and services as contracts end

Browne Jacobson and Agilia are delighted to invite you to our on-demand webinar in which we will be looking at the key issues and best practice, which every affected authority needs to know, to assist them in the management of this challenge and the development of a strategy for preservation or replacement of assets and the re-procurement of key services.

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Back to School - preparing for the reopening of schools in September

Schools in England were closed other than to the children of key workers and children who are classified as vulnerable from 20th March as part of the management of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the relaxation of lockdown measures many primary schools in England began a phased reopening for pupils from 15th June.

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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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