[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 23:59 GMT
Science body urges data sharing
The government has the largest collection of personal data
The government has the largest collection of personal data
Sharing government-held personal information could bring huge medical and social benefits, a government group has said.

The new Council for Science and Technology has recommended pooling data to deliver better targeted public services and improve policymaking.

But it said safeguards needed to be in place to protect people's privacy.

The government also needed to start a dialogue with the public on what was being proposed, it said.

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

Health research

Report author Dr Mark Walport, who heads medical charity the Wellcome Trust, said he had seen the benefit of using databases for researching links between diseases and social conditions.

Studies can also monitor the effectiveness of treatments or of the impact of adopting certain policies.

However, the owner of the biggest collection of datasets in the country - the UK government - uses the information at its disposal at a fraction of its potential, according to Dr Walport.

Personal data is guarded by government departments because of concern about misuse and invasions of privacy.

But Dr Walport argued that with more creative thinking the government could improve medical and other social policy-making while at the same time protecting the privacy of individuals.

The price on your head
29 Jun 05 |  Magazine
ID card database 'not for sale'
26 Jun 05 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific