Justice Secretary Jack Straw has backed down on the government’s most dangerous attempt yet of information abuse:
Jack Straw last night scrapped controversial government proposals that could have allowed patients’ medical and DNA records to be shared with police, foreign governments and other bodies.
In a victory for civil liberties campaigners, the justice secretary bowed to public pressure over the data-sharing provisions in the forthcoming coroners’ bill, which would have allowed public bodies to exchange data without the knowledge or consent of individuals involved. Doctors and the Bar Council had joined privacy campaigners in warning of the potential risks to public trust.
Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill would have amended the Data Protection Act, and given a government which has shown no goodwill whatsoever in the use of private information, carte blanche to use and abuse voters’ information as it saw fit, and entirely without their consent. ID cards may be pernicious but they’re nothing compared with the dangers which clause 152 posed. Guy Herbert though reminds us that this is merely a victory in a skirmish, when the overall battle has yet to be won:
Don’t hold your breath, though. Even if part eight of this bill is dropped completely, as rumoured (slyly punishing the Information Commissioner for dissent on data sharing by losing the improvements to his powers at the same time), information sharing will be back. It is at the core of current administrative fashion, and the cult of transformational government is still very much in charge at the cabinet office.
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.”
(via UK Liberty)