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Stop government databases taking personal information without consent

Comment 2nd July 2010

The Justice and Coroner's Act 2009 amended the Data Protection Act to allow the free exchange of information across databases. There is supposed to be a code of practice about sharing information, but there are no penalties for violating the code.

It is a gross invasion of privacy to know that personal information submitted to one state organisation can be legally taken without consent by another state organisation. This is exactly how Contactpoint came about – personal information on pupils and parents held by schools was uploaded without consent to a central government database. 

Similarly personal information held by schools on teachers is sent out without consent to a central government database under the guise of a 'teacher census'.

Why does this matter?

What is shocking is the level of secrecy surrounding the exchange of data across government databases that silences debate of an issue at the heart of civil liberties. 

In the case of personal information held on teachers being uploaded to a central database without consent it is unacceptable that this practice happens under the label of a 'teacher census'. Permanently recording and updating personal information – including car registration numbers – has nothing to do with a census. It does have a lot to do with security checks – why else would car registration numbers be of use? 

So please amend the data protection act to stop government agencies taking personal information without consent from other government agencies. 

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