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22 November, 2005

Data sharing? Maybe

From the BBC:

Sharing government-held personal information could bring huge medical and social benefits, a government group has said.
First reaction:  no, no, NO!

I strongly object to disparate personal records being combined. The Passport Agency shouldn't have access to my medical records. The Police shouldn't have access to my tax record. Each branch of government should only have access to the minimum of personal information, strictly limited to its own, quite distinct, subject area.
This is quite apart from what I consider to be abuses of the system:

Information is frequently shared between medical researchers and the private sector.

However, if the data are properly anonymised, I think increased integration would be a great idea, which could indeed target public services better and improve policy-making. Planners need information, and the better the information, the better the plans.

For me, the absolutely critical point is the anonymising – if there'd be any way to backtrack data to an individual (not 'only with a court order'; that's not good enough: I want it to be impossible), I'm totally opposed to the proposal.

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