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Personal information held by state to be tested

9 July 2010

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Information on UK and European citizens held by the state is to be tested to see if we have moved too far towards a “Big Brother” society in which our actions are constantly monitored.

A public consultation on data protection laws will seek to establish if information held by the various governments and police forces across the EU is proportionate and secure.

Advocates of the collection of personal information say it can help to reduce crime and improve the lives of the law-abiding members of society, but opponents claim it robs people of their freedom and moves us one step closer to the controlling regime envisaged by George Orwell in his famous satirical novel 1984.

Businesses, public sector organisations and members of the public will be included in the government consultation, which runs until 6 October 2010. And they will be asked to suggest ways to improve the European Union Data Protection Directive and the UK Data Protection Act (DPA).

Feedback from the exercise will be used to examine whether definitions under the directive and the DPA remain relevant.

Areas covered by the public consultation will include the rights of data subjects, the obligations of data controllers, international data transfers, and personal biometric information.

It will also ask whether the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has sufficient clout to police data protection concerns or if further powers are necessary.

The ICO has recently gained extra powers, but some security experts in the UK have questioned whether they are adequate.

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