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Data Protection

Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on data-sharing within and across the public sector; and what safeguards are being considered to prevent misuse of data and to ensure that the privacy of the individual is not compromised. (115268)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government’s information-sharing vision statement, published on 13 September 2006, set out our commitment to share information to expand opportunities for the most disadvantaged, fight crime and provide better public services for citizens and business, and in other instances where it is in the public interest. A copy of the statement may be found in the House Library.

The safeguards to protect the privacy of the individual are provided by the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act and the law relating to breach of confidence, which balance individuals’ privacy rights with the need for organisations to use personal information for legitimate purposes.

The Government have consulted on a possible amendment to the Data Protection Act to increase the penalties for those who deliberately and wilfully misuse personal data. The consultation ended on 31 October and the Government’s response will be published in due course.