UK government to relax data sharing laws

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UK government to relax data sharing laws

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce plans today to shake up the rules governing data protection within government departments.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce plans today to shake up the rules governing data protection within government departments.

The plans are expected to change the restrictions on government departments sharing personal data on UK citizens in an effort to improve public services, according to Minister for Works and Pensions John Hutton.

"We are not proposing a new database, nor a new government system," Hutton told Radio 4's Today program.

"I think it would be a good point to get to if we asked people if it was OK to share their data. If a person says 'no' we should respect that."

The initiative may be linked to revised plans for the national identity card scheme, which the government introduced a few hours before the Christmas parliamentary recess. 

The plans abandon the central database for the cards in favour of merging existing systems and sharing information.

Conservative Home Affairs Spokesman David Davis told the Today program that the plans would backfire badly, given the history of government IT projects.

"One of the rules of government is, the bigger the database the more the errors," he said.
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