A study says, one in four of British Government databases is almost certainly illegal and should be scrapped.
Researchers of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust called for 11 systems assessed as "almost certainly illegal" under human rights or data protection law to be scrapped or substantially redesigned.
AdvertisementThe study, according to the Guardian, also pointed to significant legal and practical problems with a further 29 databases, including the national childhood obesity one and the planned NHS summary care record system, and said they should be reviewed independently.
Privacy experts were asked to compile the report after two discs listing the entire child benefit database went missing in 2007.
Researchers said data-sharing should be authorized only for strictly defined purposes, and said sensitive personal information should be collected and shared only with the individual's consent.
The report's co-author, Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, said: "Britain's database state has become a financial, ethical and administrative disaster which is penalizing some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Often, computerization has been used as a substitute for public service reform rather than a means of enabling reform. Little thought is given to safety, privacy and value for money."
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We recognize the absolute necessity of striking the balance between the rights and privacy of the individual and the ability to disrupt, prevent and investigate crime effectively. That is why the Home Secretary [Jacqui Smith] has made it clear that a 'common sense' test must be applied to every action in this area to make sure it is proportionate, transparent and robust safeguards are in place."
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