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Law Commission ‘Data Sharing between Public Bodies’ consultation launched; open between 16th September and 16th December 2013 (get involved).

In a perhaps timely announcement, given the all too familiar circumstances surrounding the death of Daniel Pelka, the Law Commission has published a consultation paper on the subject of data sharing between public bodies.

However, it should also be noted that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has already published, since May 2011, its own ‘Data Sharing Code of Practice’ (available from its website www.ico.org.uk) which is designed to provide a framework for all organisations to make good quality decisions about data sharing.

Both the Law Commission’s and ICO’s documents are worth reading by all organisations involved in data sharing (just about everyone!) as the issues they raise and try to address are, in our experience, prevalent across all sectors – private, public and charity/voluntary.

The details below about the Law Commission’s consultation are taken directly from its website:

Background
The law surrounding data sharing is complex. Powers to share data are express or implied in numerous statutes and in the common law. The Data Protection Act 1998 sets the limits on data sharing and the rules for handling personal data. The law of confidentiality protects confidential or private information. Contract, employment and European Union law plays a part, as does the European Convention on Human Rights. There are also professional regulations, such as those that prohibit doctors from breaching the confidentiality of their patients.
Public bodies collect large amounts of data from individuals and organisations but they continue to report that they cannot always share the data they need to share and, as a result, miss out on opportunities to provide better services to citizens. At the same time, it is accepted that there is a need to ensure that the security of data and privacy of individuals are not put at risk.
The Consultation
This project aims to establish whether these perceived obstacles are embedded in practice or culture, or whether they are to do with the substance of the law or how it is written.
• Is there a problem with the law – does the law itself erect barriers that unduly restrict data sharing between public bodies?
• Is the law is too complex and hard to understand – has a lack of clarity in the law led public bodies to develop cultures that prevent lawful data sharing? Is data sharing just too difficult?
• Is there is a simply a gap in education, guidance and advice?

This consultation relates to their (Law Commission) Data Sharing between Public Bodies project.

Reference number: LCCP214; follow the hyperlink below for the consultation document:
Data Sharing between Public Bodies Consultation [PDF, 0.22mb]

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