Tory data policy puts emphasis on privacy

Dominic Grieve: Personal information belongs to you, not the state
Dominic Grieve: Personal information belongs to you, not the state

The Conservative Party has published a policy document outlining its stance on the use of personal information across the public sector.

Written by shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve QC MP and shadow Justice Minister Eleanor Laing MP, “Reversing the rise of the surveillance state” sets out an 11-point plan intended to protect personal privacy and “hold government to account, in the event of the Tories winning the next general election.”

Scrapping the National Identity Register and the ContactPoint database of children are the lead strategies for rolling back the extent to which government currently holds “intrusive and expensive databases”. The vulnerabilities of these databases to data losses or security breaches are a particular concern within the policy, which aims for fewer central government databases. Removing DNA records of individuals who have not been charged, in compliance with a recent EU ruling, is also favoured.

Tories would also examine access by councils to personal communications data, which RIPA powers have enabled. A British Bill of Rights would also review how to protect personal privacy from surveillance.

Significantly for government departments and agencies, the policy has adopted a recommendation by the ICO for Privacy Impact Assessments to be carried out on any new legislation involving data collection or sharing. The ICO’s powers would also befurther enhanced.

Departments would also have to appoint a minister or senior civil servant to take responsibility for operational data security. The ICO would also be asked to publish best practice guideliness for data security in the private sector. A consultation programme is envisaged that would ultimately lead to a kite mark for best practice.

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