"Several clauses in the Coroners and Justice Bill 2009 concern me, such as the reintroduction of secret inquests and the holding of inquests without juries on national security grounds, but one clause in particular - that has nothing to do with coroners or inquests - I find an extremely grave threat to our privacy. I am talking about clause 152 in Part 8 of the bill, the Information Sharing clause. Furthermore, this clause will directly affect each and every of your constituents, which is not the case for the rest of the bill.
If clause 152 remains as is, it would allow ministers to subvert the Data Protection Act 1998 and use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another. I recommend you read this clause in full, even though it is hidden away towards the end of this huge bill."
This is the start of the letter I sent to my MP last week. Today this bill gets its second reading in Parliament.
Inform yourself about this bill and act in whichever you feel appropriate to ensure its worst clauses are not retained as is. Here are some useful references:
'This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.
The Database State is now a direct threat not a theory.
Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register. But the powers apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies - your medical records are firmly in their sights - and even with foreign governments.'
'The Coroners and Justice Bill provides the first step in a two step process which could allow data in electronic medical records linked with genomic data to be shared with third parties – including private companies and the police – without consent. Once the Bill is adopted ministers in the Department of Health and/or the Home Office will be able to issue a ‘data-sharing order’ to allow a national DNA database of everyone registered in the NHS to be built by stealth.'
'The information sharing provisions in the Coroners and Justice Bill constitute the gravest threat to data protection in the 25-year history of the Data Protection Act, and are among the most wide-ranging and potentially intrusive proposals ever laid before Parliament.
Clause 152 of the Bill will permit an almost limitless range of data sharing opportunities both within government and between commercial organisations'
'Liberty strongly opposes these amendments as the powers it gives are extraordinarily broad and make a mockery of the safeguards contained in the DPA. The amendments would enable the Secretary of State, Treasurer or a Minister in charge of any government department to make an order giving “any person” the right to share information, including personal data, by disclosing it to another person or using the information for a purpose not related to that which the information was initially obtained. Note that the power is not restricted to sharing between government departments as suggested in media reports after this Bill was introduced: it could allow a private company to share personal data so long as an order was made allowing it. [...]
Furthermore, proposed section 50B would allow for any Act of Parliament to be amended by way of secondary legislation. This would therefore allow the order to amend the DPA itself and, on the face of it, amend the Human Rights Act 1998.'
'In our view, the grossly general provisions of Part 8 in no way constitute an adequate set of safeguards against the potential for disproportionate interference with Article 8 that data-sharing orders are likely to involve.'
A few other interesting write ups:
Act now while this is still only a bill.
Entry first published on 2009-01-26; last updated on 2009-01-29