back to article Gov opens consultation on how to best to use your data

The government wants to introduce legislation to make it easier for local authorities and government departments to share citizen data without breaching the Data Protection Act, it said in a consultation opened this week. Proposals in the Cabinet Office's Better Use of Data (PDF) consultation are intended to give the …

Anonymous Coward

So basically by joining all these dataset they get a national ID system they can use to identify who lives where and with whom and join that to their internet connection while selling off healthcare data to their business chums.

This government is a joke and using the fuel poverty line is ridiculous as they already know who needs help with their bills by the other benefits they are already receiving.

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Governments rarely use facts correctly, happily ignore things that conflict with the version of the truth they wish to convey or use.

I mean, allow government officials to use private companies to anonymise data. I mean, what can possibly go wrong. track records on this kind of IT stuff is soooo good.

Be interesting to see what happens when 65+ million peoples data accidently gets spaffed all over the Internet in the world's biggest data breach. And once it's happened you can't take it back.

And will crime be reduced as a result - nope.

Will the NHS improve as a result - nope.

Will education improve as a result - nope

Will povety be eradicated as a result - nope.

Will medical / life / other insurance suddenly become expensive for certain people becuase of this - inevertable to say yes.

Will large private companies make lots of money and pay fuck all tax - I'd bet my last £1

Do I need a tin foil hat, just making one now.

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Coffee/keyboard

It's March 1st - Not April

So... we finish reading about the revised Snoopers Charter and the next article is "What would you like the Government to do with your data!"

...... now that they have it all!

I think my brain has just turned itself inside out trying to handle the irony in this.

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Anonymous Coward

This is what a 21st century police state looks like.

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Devil

"This is what a 21st century police state looks like."

No, this is what happens when the Kardashians are more newsworthy than what your politicians are up too.

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Silver badge

I do believe you are more on target than anyone thinks. Bread and circuses... And don't forget to ignore that man behind the curtain.

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No, this is what happens when the public cares about what the Kardashians are up to more than what politicians are up too.

FTFY.

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Mrs May

I presume that the downvotes that you have received have been from Mrs May and Dave, I can't imagine anyone else being moronic enough to think this is a good idea. Actually, that's not true, in the heated debate in yesterday's Guardian, someone actually came out with 'if you've nothing to hide...'.

It is so terribly, terribly sad. We live in an oligarchy.

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WTF?

Clearly a Need

Primary schools are fed with pupils based according to the birth rates in their areas. Secondary schools are few by the throughput of the primary schools yet I read the other day that school authorities have suddenly woken up to the fact that demand for secondary pupil places will go up in the very near future. My goodness, these pupils have only been in the pipeline for 10+ years. Wow statistics processing must be very good to miss that issue out.

Large numbers of incomers are now needing to be fed housed treated and in some case taught and healed, without some clear idea of where they are, how many they are and what their needs will be how can anyone plan facilities to avoid a problem.

OK the census were used for such planning, but they have been so manipulated and took place only every ten years when forced changes happen very much faster so those data are double useless now. So two options, 1) give up and let it all happen, or 2) throw up our hands and say 'too much data', so do nothing.

Or has someone decided to start trying to get the required thought processes in train?

I see the first AC has his colours nailed to the right conspiracy theory mast, after all who needs planning when major projects take a long period of development? We don't need hospitals, housing schools, roads, transport, etc. They are just luxuries.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clearly a Need

Your right I am nailed to the mast but answer me this, Do you trust all these branches of government that will create and have access to this data to be open, transparent and honest about it's uses?

However you do make some good points but schools are in the same organisation (Councils) so they should be sharing data anyway to anticipate school needs or at least talking to each other.

Births and immigration details need to be passed to schools as well, why we don't do this now is beyond me, want to know how many children there are in an area use child benefit.

We could make the electoral role mandatory and have the whole family and pass the gender and age information, there's all the problems solved.

However should we have all these various departments of government compiling a big "dataset" of everyone and everything about them including health, earnings, family history? I don't think we should.

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FAIL

Re: Clearly a Need

This government yes but the Blair or heaven forbid a future Corbyn lot; no with bloody great bells on.

Look at one point though, you have pointed out how data should be used and it sounds a lot like what has been proposed. Add in some data about illness, and other life factors and epidemiological studies become really easy. Currently we can guess at where clusters of illness are and what caused them, was a public health problem caused by dirty water, broken drains, or a typhoid carrier?

Overcrowding should be easy to spot a thousand people living in one street of ten houses should look odd, very odd but does anyone ever look behind such data, yes sometimes councils do, mainly when dealing with such as housing benefits of various types. Often only manually and only when a problem is suspected, of course PC rules must also be followed, to whose benefit? Those being shafted, well you know who they are most likely to be.

Incidentally many relevant data are collected already on such factors, but usually not in ways that allow them to be used for any useful purpose.

Financial information on your bank account, income from other sources, age, etc. most if not all covered by existing laws and rules. The reach of the HMRC machine is now quite considerable, it is just a shame that they never appear able to reach great heights in the accuracy and reliability stakes.

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Re: Clearly a Need

There's clearly a need to known how many. The neediness to know who is much more questionable. When we see statements such as "legislation to make it easier for local authorities and government departments to share citizen data without breaching the Data Protection Act" we really should be questioning this. Firstly is the DPA there for a reason? Secondly does the DPA allow for this sharing already? If it does why do we need extra legislatation? If it doesn't is this additional legislation intended to weaken the DPA so what's illegal now can become legal whilst still claiming to be not breaching it? And if so does it make a nonsense of the reasons we have the DPA?

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@Richard Jones 1 Re: Clearly a Need

I don't object to government using data to be more efficient but I think you are wrong to be so dismissive of the opposing, paranoid point of view. To think that such data wouldn't be used nefariously by government agencies is to ignore history.

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Re: Clearly a Need

yet I read the other day that school authorities have suddenly woken up to the fact that demand for secondary pupil places will go up in the very near future. My goodness, these pupils have only been in the pipeline for 10+ years. Wow statistics processing must be very good to miss that issue out.

Might also have something to do with the large net migration into the country over recent years and future years given the Syrian crisis. Perhaps it is demand above that which they were expecting and planning for?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clearly a Need

Your clearly an idiot if you trust this government over any other..

They have done nothing but lie and hide inconvenient facts, just look at how it's been used in the NHS.

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This actually sounds rational

And if it came from any other source I'd support it. The problem is I don't trust this government not to see all this data as a revenue stream.

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If this lot can get hold of it ...

they'll sell it to someone who won't give access back.

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Re: If this lot can get hold of it ...

They will buy proprietary database software to store all the data for a hundred million, then pay half a billion each time the need to get some data back out of the obfuscated file format created specially by the contractor.

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Devil

Re: If this lot can get hold of it ...

Or.. they will just create the Mother Of All Excel Spreadsheets*.

*Using Office '97 on WinXP of course.

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Devil

Re: If this lot can get hold of it ...

@Mark 85

Nah! It will be an Access Database

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Silver badge

Re: If this lot can get hold of it ...

Can't be. These are civil servants. It might also be a Powerpoint.

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Anonymous Coward

They want to match up the individuals in the census, education records, benefits and tax records. e.g. This enables them to see where in the country muslims claim most benefits. Or good grades in which A-levels mean you pay a lot of income tax over the years. There are all sorts of analysis you can do to better direct government money and save it too. That is the carrot here.

However this proposal will fundamentally break the principle that for each government service, the data that is collected is only used for that service. i.e. you can go to the doctor now and not worry that they will check consistency of your health and your benefits claims. Or check that you are paying tax. There are plenty studies that show people avoid the doctor if there is known cross-referencing.

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Not exactly

"However this proposal will fundamentally break the principle that for each government service, the data that is collected is only used for that service"

No.

As long as the subsequent use to which data are put can be described as "not incompatible" with the original purpose for processing, you'd be surprised how much further data can be exploited (and I don't necessarily mean "exploited" pejoratively).

This presumes proper "fair processing" activity - transparency and openness about the subsequent use, a legal basis for it (be that consent, legislation, court order or whatever) but it's eminently doable, and always has been.

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/principle-2-purposes

"Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes."

As usual, tons of knee-jerk in the comments here, but - trust me on this - the policy makers in the government organisations that become involved in these proposed novel datashares/uses are careful to an almost obsessively paranoid degree, about good governance and proper lawfulness/fairness considerations; and - trust me on this too - kick out unacceptable proposals on a daily basis.

And will continue to do so, even if this initiative rolls out.

Let me put it another way: Cabinet Office gets told "no" a lot...

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Re: Not exactly

"Let me put it another way: Cabinet Office gets told "no" a lot..."

The proposal suggests that this is what they're trying to avoid.

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Alien

So...

Who are the Government working for?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So...

The lizards, I thought everyone knew?

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govt not going to sell our data, silly, they're going to give it away. that way their best buddies (who will be, with luck, their future employers) can make shed loads of money. it's win win innit?

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Bogus of course

• Where is small granularity of data (not information) required?

• How does the sort of data the government collects about people en masse be used to target (er benefit) individuals?

• The accuracy, coverage and reliability of a lot of personal detail is appalling. For example my medical history/records do not give a picture of my current or future health. There is a huge amount of under reporting on (one example) cycling traffic accidents. It's known but still (mis-) used as a statistic.

• I asked NHS England for a capacity planning model for primary care in the Witham area. Answer came there blocks and obfuscation. So when a VERY SIMPLE exercise in the sort of planning the Government could be doing is not being done it makes a mockery of Vampire data collection.

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Holmes

"legislation to make it easier...

"...for local authorities and government departments to share citizen data without breaching the Data Protection Act"

And the easiest way to do that is to weaken the protections the plebs already have! Trebles all round!

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Vic

"Complex legal landscape"

...One of my "red flag" phrases.

Most laws really aren't that complex. There's a bit of reading to do, and the terminology is often more precise than many are used to reading, but the laws generally[1] say what they're trying to do in clear language.

Usually, when someone describes a law as "compex", what they really mean is "it doesn't say what I want it to say".

Vic.

[1] There are a class of laws - usually relating to "security"[2] in some way - that are not written with this clarity. There seems to be a reason for that...

[2] Ha!

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Unhappy

BIggsie

You just gotta love Big Brother - Yes you shall love Big Brother or the un-funny Room 101

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Reverse anon.

I'd be more happy with the prospect of data sharing if there was a specific offence of de-anonymising. It's not hard to write programs to put together two or more "anonymous" datasets with a personal one, and infer the identity of the data subjects. Writing, possessing, using, or using the products of, such programs should be specifically dis-allowed.

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