BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 17:48 GMT
Tories attack data-sharing plans
Computer screen
Ministers will consult the public before sharing information
A plan to share people's personal details between government departments on a database would be a threat to privacy, the Conservatives say.

Shadow constitutional affairs secretary Oliver Heald accused the government of "moving one step closer to a 'Big Brother' state".

But the government believes a database would give the public better access to vital services.

Tony Blair is expected to unveil the proposal in Downing Street on Monday.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton said departments already stored "vast amounts of data about individual citizens".

But the information is not shared intelligently across various government agencies, he said.

For example, one family had to contact the government 44 times to confirm various details after a relative died in a road accident, Mr Hutton said.

What will they want to know about me next? What colour my socks are?
Kate, Newcastle

"We can improve the quality of public services if we are prepared to share data more intelligently."

Ministers intend to consult the public to see if they are in favour of the data-sharing plan.

Five "citizens' panels" of 100 people are being recruited by the polling organisation Ipsos Mori.


Mr Heald raised concerns over the government being able to "set up a database from the cradle to the grave".

"Are they going to have enough security with this massive new database to ensure that it isn't hacked into and that identity theft doesn't occur?" he told the Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House.

The Liberal Democrats accused the government of stripping the public of its privacy.

"Blair's Britain now has the most intrusive government in our history," leader Menzies Campbell said.

"There is no part of people's lives which is free from snooping.

"State intervention and control expands every day. It is time we put a halt to this." he added.

Human rights group Liberty said the government had contempt for people's privacy.

"This half-baked proposal would allow an information free-for-all within government - ripe for disastrous errors, and ripe for corruption and fraud," the group's director Shami Chakrabarti said.

Whitehall plan for huge database
14 Jan 07 |  Politics
Wider use of private data planned
13 Sep 06 |  Politics
Call for more ID theft protection
29 Aug 06 |  Moneybox
Do you support ID cards?
30 Jun 05 |  Have Your Say

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific