Quarter of British government databases are illegal

A quarter of all databases created and used by the British government are illegal, and should be scrapped or redesigned, according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which "funds political campaigns in the UK to promote democratic reform, civil liberties and social justice", examined 46 public sector systems and found that 11 were "almost certainly" illegal under human rights or data protection laws.

These 11 systems include the national DNA database and ContactPoint, an index of biographical and contact information for all children designed to aid child protection. Criminal justice systems were also found to retain the fingerprints and details of those arrested, even when they had been acquitted or released without charge.

An £89 million data-sharing system being developed for the Department for Work and Pensions has already been abused by staff at 30 councils according to the trust's report, with councils making information available to private firms.

Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University, who authored the report, said, "Britain's database state has become a financial, ethical and administrative disaster which is penalising some of the most vulnerable members of our society."

The British government currently spends £16 billion a year on databases that record information about it's citizens, and plans to spend a further £105 billion over the next few years, according to the BBC.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman however defended the databases, stating that the report contains "no substantive evidence", and that the government has not lost sight of its obligations under the data protection and human rights acts.

A spokesman for the Home Office said that they needed to find the balance between an individuals' rights to privacy and their ability to fight crime. He also said that DNA testing and CCTV provide "clear benefits."

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Space Bat's fate may never be known

Next Story

Halo Wars sells one million copies

20 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

With all the spying the US, UK, and Australia did on their own people over the last eight years of the Bush Tyranny, did the manage to catch even one genuine terrorist because of it?

They didn't even catch Madoff, but they sure did collect a lot of info about *something*.

It's like if you are arrested and released without charge all the data collected by the Kozzers can only be kept for 3 years then has to be destroyed.

Lots of cases have been found where information on an innocent person is still kept.

Then the government allow your vehicle licence plate information to be sold by the DVLA to parking companies and anyone I guess that wants it.

It's in the small print when you apply for a driving licence, which of course loads of people miss.

I always thought data protection laws were there to protect people not open yet more can of worms, that can create anarchy.

Was I the only one who thought the headline meant the databases were so poorly designed/maintained that they violated some law? For example the database didn't have a primary key and no data validation...

After reading the article it reminds me of Brazil... they have so much data they don't know what data they have.

AfroTrance said,
After reading the article it reminds me of Brazil... they have so much data they don't know what data they have.


Maybe if they had some sort of database to keep track of that...

I don't understand why we aren't having a General Election this year. Last one was June 2005 and GE's are suppose to be every 4 years so I don't get why we have to wait till next year other than the fact Labour most likely know they'll lose.

lee26 said,
I don't understand why we aren't having a General Election this year. Last one was June 2005 and GE's are suppose to be every 4 years so I don't get why we have to wait till next year other than the fact Labour most likely know they'll lose.

A term in office in the UK is 5 years.

Magallanes said,
"Those who sacrifice Freedom for Security shall have neither."
Benjamin Franklin.

That was Jefferson.

I hate this country too, I'd love to leave right now but I can't!

The UK Government don't give a damn about what they do anymore, Seems they are purposely creating a pile of mess for the next government to try and clean up, Because the next government certainly won't be labour the way they are going with the databases and stuff!

iAwesomeness said,
I hate this country too, I'd love to leave right now but I can't!

The UK Government don't give a damn about what they do anymore, Seems they are purposely creating a pile of mess for the next government to try and clean up, Because the next government certainly won't be labour the way they are going with the databases and stuff!



True true true.

This government are control freaks, lead by Jaqui Spliff (got her name correct this timeas she moaned when I spelt it Jackie).

If I could clear the bills in one swoop pay of notice to our landlord, I would be gone.

I said to my fiancee lets move to Trinidad, (thats where her father is from) she said NO.

I said Canada, she said I am not sure, so I will try and get together a few thousand, so we can apply and go.

Britain is a ces pit, it's washed up and it's finished.

Why we are holding the 2012 Olympics is beyond me as we are already in so much debt.

Yay for the UK, glad to see we can't do anything without them bloody knowing about it.

I hate this country, what have we become? Hopefuly it will be scrapped

It upsets me to see the things the UK government is doing, and I don't even live there. My best wishes go out to those that do. Hopefully something can be done with all this nonsense.

What I dont get is why these sorts of things keep happening, and NOTHING is done about it! so 11 databases were found to be illegal. What will be done? **** all.