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Data Protection

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, (1) what plans she has to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 to allow more data-sharing between public sector bodies; and if she will make a statement; (99631)

(2) what the timetable is for the Government’s plans to amend the data protection principle to facilitate public sector data-sharing.

We have no plans to amend the Data Protection Act 1998, as it does not prevent the lawful sharing of personal data. As we made clear in the Information-sharing Vision Statement, published in September, the Government are committed to greater data sharing—where it is lawful and in the public interest—while ensuring suitable safeguards are in place to protect personal information. The safeguards are provided by the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act 1998, which balance individuals’ privacy rights with the need for organisations to use personal data for legitimate purposes. However, we wish to ensure that, as more data are shared, the level of protection reflects the potential risks. We have been consulting on a possible amendment to the Data Protection Act to strengthen the penalties for those who deliberately or recklessly obtain or disclose personal data. The consultation finished on 31 October and we intend to publish the outcome later this year.