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back to article Rights Commish warns of creeping gov data menace

The government's approach to the collection and use of personal data is "deeply flawed", according to a report from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC has joined in long running complaints from privacy activists with the publication of a report, Protecting Information Privacy (105-page PDF/716KB), which …

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Mission creep, undoubtedly...

"...Any requirement to use personal data for any purpose other than for which it was collected should go through a vetting process...."

When I was a Civil Servant it was axiomatic that data collected from citizens was purely to be used for that project, and was NEVER to be passed to any other part of the department. And CERTAINLY NOT out to another department.

Of course, the fact that much of the data was paper based, and it would have been an arm and a leg of work to transfer it may have supported that attitude. But it is instructive to see that something which was a rule set in stone in the 1970s/80s has now quietly been reversed....

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Anonymous Coward

I read this in yesterdays Metro

My main thought was "That's the Quango that another bunch said should be scrapped last week", because they do nothing and cost millions to not do it.

Getting data from all government agencies centralised (or at least connected) and accessible throughout, with basic security protection for sensitive material makes sense. That way we can reduce the size of the civil service and counsels and quangos that spend most of their time collecting the same data again and again.

If data was made available correctly through a central control system there would be no need for CD's/Flash-Drives to be used at all, and then they could not be left on planes, trains and automobiles.

Personally I want all quangos gone; if they have any function that is deemed useful (most don't) that function should be within central government, or passed down to the more local levels. That way they are more accountable to the people, and it makes those elected to office responsible for the failings.

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Paris Hilton

Reply: I read this in yesterdays Metro

Hmmm I think one justification (not voiced in the press and media so much these days?) is that MPs and civil servants cannot be expected to be experts in all things that require Government/Whitehall action.

So (as royalty did with royal courts?) decided that expert advice was required.

The problem is that consultants charge everso much dosh and so the notion of a relatively cost reduced prospect of a QUANGO was introduced.

By then people will have jops serving the Quangos and of course civil servantry will not take kindly to reducing those posts?

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Paris Hilton

Data alone has no harm...

... what seems more harmful still is who is allowed to access that data and for what purpose.

Tangent: according to the BBC there was a time before a Secrecy Act existed. And an official required five copies of an act to be (it was at the drafting stage) and so recruited the services of a copier (a person not a machine as it was, after all, the 19th century).

The story goes that by the time the copier had handwritten additional copies the contents had become embedded in memory. A quick trot to nearest coffee shop along with request for pen and paper soon made for another unofficial copy of the Secrecy Act to be.

A quick call to the Mail and the threepence an hour copier soon had a fistful of £50 courtesy of those kind people at the Mail.

Moral:

1 - no crime had been committed (Secrecy Act was in draft)

2 - government or Whitehall never seem to learn anything at all really

Icon: weep

(you know why?)

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Damm right

Now what are they going to *do* about it.

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Unhappy

My local council blithely ignores the law

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council have consistently ignored all Subject Access Requests made on my behalf. Nobody seems interested in doing anything about it, either.

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Paris Hilton

Reply to: My local council blithely ignores the law

It does not surprise me really.

I think the basis is something like:

We are so feckless and inefficient that the courts must extend us extra privilege and kindnesses. If not we will drag out our actions or rather inactions ensuring that the whole matter takes so very long to complete that the complainant and interested parties will have died or at the least lost interest.

Tried your MP? Not as a complaint (the Council will have that covered to) but as a reported concern on the working methods of a local authority, local service provider and arm of local government.

I don't think they have a solution for that one yet other than undue influence.

The trouble is local government is a great concept with huge potential but as run at present it tends to be self centric in all matters (the management comes first and then the workers. Service users? Are there any left? Have we missed a few?"

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Unhappy

Yup, you're right there.

Trouble is, our local MPs are the same political shade as the council so there's no way they'd administer a kicking, or even make suggestions to their local gov colleagues.

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Holmes

Ah - shame

MP, Council, ... the trouble(s) is(are) that all of these are toothless tigers if one employee is taking steps to prevent you accessing the information requested (usually on pretext or in pretence that the "Council" is somehow strengthened by protecting individual employee(s). Councils will usually do anything including breaking the law if someone raises the litigation fear/pretext).

Failing all else try ICO but chances are they will reply that you need to exhaust Council complaints service before they can get involved (LGO will probably do the same).

Toothless tigers on incredible incomes?

My take: all taxpayer funded services should come with service level agreements covering what the budget will be spent on and what the frontline service will be.

Shortlisted candidates: HMRC, DWP, all Councils, all health authorities, ... (plus MPs?).

It will probably take you in the region of a good 12 months to move things forward (Councils are also experts at dragging things out when they want to).

My take: just as Council children's homes because hotbed cultures for and of paedophilia and paedophiles, Council run services attract, support and nourish misanthropes and misanthropy.

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