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WAY FORWARD FOR SMARTER PUBLIC SERVICES THROUGH BETTER USE OF PERSONAL DATA

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The prime minister today welcomed a new report aimed at delivering ...
The prime minister today welcomed a new report aimed at delivering

more customer-focussed public services through better use of personal

information in a way that commands public trust and ensures effective

privacy safeguards.

The report, from the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU), says that

the ability of the public sector to deliver more personalised, more

efficient services depends on the effective use of personal

information about citizens.

To realise the potential benefits for citizens from better data use,

the public sector must earn people's trust about how their personal

information is protected and build confidence in the way it handles

sensitive data.

Called 'Privacy and Data-Sharing: The Way Forward for Public

Services' , the PIU report says that action is needed in a number of

areas, including:

- Building public trust: ensuring clear and consistent principles

govern the way personal information is used across the public

sector, through a Public Services Trust Charter, greater openness

in the interactions between public services and their consumers,

and improved access to personal data along with simple processes

for correcting mistakes;

- Improving data quality: ensuring that the data held for public

service delivery is high quality and up-to-date, for example

through increased use of data quality audits to ensure that only

good quality, up-to-date information is used in data-sharing;

- Making better use of technology to deliver more secure, more

joined-up services: ensuring high levels of data security,

effective protection from fraud and more joined-up, more

personalised service delivery, for example through the use of

smartcard and public key infrastructure technology and by

implementing best practice on information security throughout the

public sector;

- Addressing legal problems: ensuring that public services are clear

about how the law regulates data-sharing, together with

consultation on possible legal changes to allow wider data-sharing

with the consent of the individual and to change the processes for

establishing data-sharing gateways.

Tony Blair said:

'I strongly welcome this report on such an important issue for public

services.

'The government supports the twin objectives set out in the report of

encouraging better use of personal data to deliver improved public

services and safeguarding personal privacy.

'Public services are already using data more effectively to deliver

more joined-up, more personalised public services. But there is room

to achieve much more. The opportunities are clear: better, more

personalised, more efficient public services which handle personal

information in a way that commands public trust.'

The PIU report identifies a number of ways that the public could

benefit from more efficient use of shared data. Examples include:

- A link between the Driver and Vehicle LicensingAgency and the UK

Passport Service could mean drivers not having to send their

passport to the DVLA when applying for a photocard licence. Instead

the two agencies could use Passport numbers to verify identities.

- Modernising the civil registration system in England and Wales so

that births and deaths could be registered in a variety of ways,

including by phone or through the Internet.

- Making life easier for house buyers with simpler access to

information about a property, such as land registry details,

planning details and property and land prices.

- Tackling problems of car crime and dumped vehicles by making more

information available to police officers right at the roadside.

Launching the report, Lord Falconer, sponsor minister for

the project, said:

'Government needs to earn people's trust when to comes to collecting

and using personal information about them. But we can then repay that

trust with services that are much more closely tailored to individual

needs.'

'People expect the public sector to provide customer-focused

high-quality services, like those they already enjoy from the private

sector. Better use of personal data, with effective privacy

safeguards that build public trust, will help government to meet

these expectations.'

Notes

1. The report identifies several drivers of change:

- rising public expectations of public services - consumers expect

services to be responsive to their needs;

- the move to e-government and the ability of IT to deliver

innovative services are presenting new opportunities to deliver a

step change in service delivery;

- identification and authentication - there is a growing risk of

identity theft and fraud, which poses risks for individuals and

public services alike;

- the legal framework has evolved rapidly in recent years, which

could lead to changes in the relationship between individuals and

public services;

- a growing concern about personal privacy, driven by awareness of

the internet and the challenges posed by the knowledge economy.

2. The report develops a strategy to co-ordinate improvements in

service delivery. The strategy rests on the principle that public

services should deliver better data use and effective privacy

safeguards in equal measure.

3. The strategy is built on change in five key areas:

- building trust in the way that public services handle personal

data;

- improving the quality of the data held by public services;

- making better use of IT to deliver more secure, more joined-up

services;

- ensuring consistency across public services in meeting the

challenges raised; and

- ensuring that there is a consistent interpretation of how the law

allows and regulates data-sharing.

4. The report discusses possible changes to legislation to enable

more effective data use, with safeguards attached. It also issues a

Public Services Trust Charter for consultation. The government

welcomes views on these recommendations. A copy of the draft

charter is attached. The consultation period closes on 12 July

2002. Further consultations on proposals in the report leading to

draft legislation will be undertaken by the lord chancellor's

department.

5. The creation of the Performance and Innovation Unit was

announced by the prime minister on 28 July 1998. The PIU's aim is

to improve the capacity of government to address strategic,

cross-cutting issues and to promote innovation in the development

and delivery of policy and in the delivery of the government's

objectives. The unit reports direct to the prime minister through

Richard Wilson.

Draft Public Services Trust Charter - for consultation

This Charter sets out the standards of service that you can expect

from public services in the way they handle personal information.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US

In observing the Data Protection Act, public services will aim to

ensure that the following principles apply in handling personal

information:

Overall Principles

- where you have a choice as to whether to provide us with your

information, it is as easy as possible to exercise that choice;

- your information is only processed without your knowledge where

this is necessary for purposes such as national security, public

safety, statistical analysis, the protection of the economy, the

prevention of crime or disorder, the protection of health or

morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;

- only information which we actually need is collected and processed;

- your personal information is only seen by staff who need it to do

their jobs;

- any information which we no longer need is deleted;

- decisions affecting you are only made on the basis of reliable and

up to date information;

- your information is protected from unauthorised or accidental

disclosure;

- a copy of any information we hold about you is normally provided on

request;

- any inaccurate or misleading information is checked and corrected

as soon as you bring this to our attention; and

- proper procedures are in place for dealing promptly with any

complaints that you make.

The principles apply to personal information which we hold both on

computer and in some paper records.

Service-specific Privacy Statements

Wherever we request personal information from you, we will publish a

Privacy Statement for that service which will set out clearly:

- who will see it

- why they need it

- what they will do with it

- when they will delete it

We will also tell you:

- how we safeguard your personal information

- how you can check and correct the information we hold

- how to pursue a query or complaint

- where to get more information

* See LGCnetfor 'LCD ASSUMES RESPONSIBILITY FOR SMARTER PUBLIC SERVICE THROUGH BETTER USE OF PERSONAL DATA'

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