Monday, 19 November 2007

Data sharing 'could sap public confidence'

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Data sharing 'could sap public confidence'Watch out gov't... The government has been warned increased data sharing between departments and services could result in a decline in citizens' confidence in public bodies.The current push by the government towards increased data sharing could backfire, with negative effects for public confidence, according to Merlin, Earl of Erroll, a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. He said schemes such as the National Identity Register - on which the government plans to hold the personal data of every UK citizen - could lead to an over-intrusive state when combined with data sharing between government departments and services.Lord Erroll said: "With increased sharing of data, there is a greater risk of failure of public services due to the greater complexity of systems, but also people may become frightened of being caught."He added: "If you don't tell the DVLA of a change of address, after a month you're liable to a fine of £1,000 and it will be the same under the National Identity Register. I see a problem of linking up government departments and services, like law enforcement, that are seen as enforcers and those seen as helpers, like [social services]."If someone had, for example, notified their doctor of a change of address but forgotten to notify the DVLA and this resulted in a penalty, it could undermine public confidence in both bodies, according to Lord Erroll.He also said he was concerned about the possible data-mining implications of the scheme and added "the amount of fraud they will detect is probably less than they think".However, Sir David Varney, the Prime Minister's adviser on public-service transformation, said the nature of the data to be shared between government departments was still under discussion.

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