The UK Government is going to consult more widely on its proposals for data sharing within government.
A national identity register that allows data sharing across government could be the technological underpinning of a huge improvement in the provision of government services. (It is important that the technology will not transform the services: it is a platform on which government processes can change).
Those of us who understand the technology and care about our civil liberties should not adopt a luddite stance of opposition: we should send a clear, consistent and simple message about the safeguards we need so that we get the benefits of joined up services without the risks to our freedoms.
I propose the following five, readily understandable safeguards. The government should commit itself to each of these, or offer an extremely good reason why not:
- government data should be stored in decentralized databases that can communicate with each other on a need to know basis, not in shared data warehouses;
- citizens should have access to all data held about them by government
- citizens should be able to see a complete log of every access to their personal data by all public servants
- an independent information security ombudsman should police the systems
- there should be no identity cards and no collection of biometric data