Yearly Archives: 2011


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David Millward writes in the Daily Telegraph: People selling scrap metal will have to show proof of identity under a pilot scheme which comes into force next week. An estimated 240 dealers in north east England have signed up to the project which could be rolled out to the rest of the country as the Government looks to stem the wave of thefts which are costing the economy an estimated £1 billion a year. The six-month trial, known as Operation Tornado, is seen as a dry run for legislation which could be introduced next year. “It is one of a number of measures that is currently being explored to restrict the sale and movement of stolen metal,” said Chief Insp Robin Edwards, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers. “It has been designed not to inhibit those dealers that operate legitimate businesses, but to remove unscrupulous dealers who […]

Scrap metal dealers to demand ID


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The BBC reports: Attempts are being made to prosecute about 400 people in England and Wales for failing to return their 2011 census forms, the BBC has learned. … By comparison, there were only 43 successful prosecutions in the whole of the UK at the last census 10 years ago. They report comments from one of those prosecuted: But Brian Collier, from Coventry, refused to complete his census because he considered it “intrusive”. He was prosecuted and ordered to pay £150 – which included a fine, costs and victim surcharge. The maximum fine for not completing the census is £1,000. “It was supposed to have been about what the government were going to do with money – you know the funding and things like that, that’s what I believed,” he said. “But when I read through the census, it just seemed like ‘who’s in your household’, ‘do you know anyone […]

Census 2011: Bid to prosecute 400 for failing to return ...


Mark Say writes in The Guardian: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has cancelled its tender for identity assurance services, claiming it had not followed the relevant procedures for the procurement. Earlier this month it published a tender notice with the aim of supporting its major programmes, including the provision of universal credit and personal independence payments, and making them available for other parts of central government. But it has now issued a cancellation notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (Ojeu).

DWP pulls back identity services tender



Miles Brignall writes in the Guardian about local authorities’ use of database matching to catch those wrongly claiming single-person Council Tax discount – and how the innocent can also be affected: When Sarah Dodds received a letter from Bristol city council demanding £3,000 in unpaid council tax, she assumed there had been a mistake. However, things got worse when she called to find out what was going on. The council, she was told, was accusing her of fraudulently claiming the 25% council tax discount given to those living alone. It wanted its money, backdated to 2002, and there was apparently no appeal. Her “crime” was allowing her estranged son to have his bank statements and other letters sent to her home. By doing so, the semi-retired civil servant has become caught up in a campaign adopted by councils across the country to reduce single-person discount fraud, which is estimated to […]

The council tax shock of living alone


Antony Savvas writes in CIO magazine: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is planning to issue a framework contract worth around £200 million for the supply of identity assurance services for 21 million benefits claimants. The government’s new identity assurance (IDA) systems will support its planned Universal Credit system. The framework deal which is expected to include a multiple number of suppliers will last four years with a possible two-year extension, depending on the progress of the Universal Credit and the personal independence payments systems it will support. The IDA systems will be designed to ensure the identities that citizens are using to claim benefits or access services online can be verified. When the Child Tax Credit system was first introduced the government at the time suffered large losses as a result of fraudulent claims made online.

DWP issues £200m identity services tender


Sade Laja writes in The Guardian: Data accessed under the secondary uses service, which is jointly delivered by the NHS Information Centre and Connecting for Health (CfH), for the NHS and its partners, is not always anonymised. The CfH states on its website that the service only provides access to “anonymous patient-based data” for purposes other than direct clinical care, such as healthcare planning, commissioning services, public health and national policy development. However, this is at odds with the health department’s FoI disclosure. When asked whether the data accessed under the service was always anonymised, the DH said it was “not always accessed in an anonymised format.” Access to identifiable information is, however, limited to those circumstances where legal permission has been granted by the secretary of state for health under the 2002 NHS control of patient information regulations. The department said that there were instances where data was accessed […]

How anonymous is NHS patient data?



“The Moral Maze” on BBC Radio 4 asks: Do we have a moral duty to share our medical information with drug companies to develop treatments that could benefit all of mankind? The MP3 podcast can be downloaded here (until early January), and the programme is also available via the Listen Again page here.

The Moral Maze: NHS patient data


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James Brown writes in Pulse about responses to David Cameron’s announcement on the use of NHS patient records by industry: But the BMA raised concerns over patient confidentiality. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA said: ‘Whilst the BMA does believe the use of anonymised health data could benefit patients, we are concerned that elements of the Government’s proposals could, if implemented, undermine patient confidentiality.’ She said: ‘We are especially worried by recommendations that would grant researchers, possibly from large commercial companies rather than the patient’s healthcare team, access to patient records. This could mean that details of an individual’s health status and treatment will be revealed if researchers are able to search through records and identify patients in order to contact them’. In response, a Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The data will be stored electronically and linked when required to meet a specific health […]

BMA raises alarm over NHS patient data sharing plans


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James Baker writes on the LibDem Voice web site: Despite the coalition’s initial promises it is business as usual for Whitehall data-sharing projects. What started under the program of ‘Transformational Government’ is now wrapped up in the language of ‘Open Data’. The new language is attractive – after all we all want public data to be open and accessible. Sadly bureaucrats too often conflate public data with private data collected and stored by public bodies. Our private NHS medical records should belong to us, we as citizens should be in control of them. They are not the Department of Health’s to trade and share. If we want to share our medical records so others can benefit there should be a clear opt in system where active consent is sought. This principle of clear consent operates throughout all medical research and should apply to how our data is used too. When […]

Selling our NHS data is not putting us in control ...



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According to the BBC: Healthcare companies could be given access to anonymous NHS patient records and other NHS data under new plans. On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron is due to unveil the plans intended to help the UK life sciences sector become a world leader, and give patients faster access to new treatments. Campaign group Patient Concern fears the “death of patient confidentiality”. The government promised “all necessary safeguards”. It is unclear whether the plan covers all or part of the UK. The prime minister, due to make a keynote speech on the plans in London on Monday, is expected to give life science companies more freedom to run clinical trials inside hospitals. The government says that the cradle-to-grave principle of the NHS means it has some of the most detailed and comprehensive patient data in the world.

Patients’ NHS records could be shared with private firms


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Rebecca Smith writes in the Daily Telegraph: All patients will be able to access their medical records by 2015 amid fears over security, it has been announced. The controversial system would allow patients to check their medical documents online and raise any inaccuracies or problems with their doctor, however concerns have been raised over the plans. The announcement was buried in documents released with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement ahead of the results of a public consultation due to be published next year. Patients should be given greater access and control over their medical information, the consultation said. However, there are worries over the security of the system and that the information will be passed on or sold in so called ‘technology and data markets’. Patients could be pressured into giving third parties, such as insurers access, to their record or to disclose details contained in it, it was warned. Gareth […]

All patients to be given online access to medical records


The Identity Project web site reports: On November 17, 2011, US and European Union officials signed a renegotiated proposed agreement (original English version; official German translation) to authorize airlines to forward PNR data (travel reservations) to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As an executive agreement, not a treaty, it doesn’t require any further US approval, but it does require ratification by both by Council of the EU (national governments of EU members) and the European Parliament. The US is mounting an exceptionally intense high-level lobbying and public propaganda campaign on this issue in Brussels. But despite the importance of the issue, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have only been allowed to read the proposed agreement in a sealed room, and have been forbidden to take written notes or speak publicly about what the revised proposal says. To facilitate informed public debate, we are publishing the full text […]

Revised EU-US agreement on PNR data still protects only travel ...



The Identity Project web site reports: On November 17, 2011, US and European Union officials signed a renegotiated proposed agreement (original English version; official German translation) to authorize airlines to forward PNR data (travel reservations) to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As an executive agreement, not a treaty, it doesn’t require any further US approval, but it does require ratification by both by Council of the EU (national governments of EU members) and the European Parliament. The US is mounting an exceptionally intense high-level lobbying and public propaganda campaign on this issue in Brussels. But despite the importance of the issue, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have only been allowed to read the proposed agreement in a sealed room, and have been forbidden to take written notes or speak publicly about what the revised proposal says. To facilitate informed public debate, we are publishing the full text […]

Revised EU-US agreement on PNR data still protects only travel ...


David Millward writes in the Daily Telegraph: The DVLA is looking to cash in on motorists by selling their names and addresses to wheel clampers and private parking companies at a profit. The agency wants to plug a £100m gap in its finances by charging more than the current £2.50 administrative fee. Last year the agency sold details of 1m motorists to more than 150 parking enforcement companies, angering driving groups. However, according to Simon Tse, the DVLA’s chief executive, the current fee only covers administrative costs. Appearing before the Transport Select Committee at Westminster, Mr Tse said the DVLA was in discussions with the Department for Transport about raising the fee.

DVLA wants to cash in on private parking tickets


Jennifer Baker writes in ComputerWorld UK: A leading Member of the European Parliament has said that she will not be silenced on the shortcomings of a new deal to pass European airline traveller information to the United States. Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie In’t Veld made the comments on Friday after the European Commission issued a press release extolling the virtues of the Passenger Name Register (PNR) agreement. Parliamentarians have been banned from talking about the content of the deal or making notes on the document and may only read it in a “sealed room”. In’t Veld believes this is ridiculous. “This is highly unfortunate. MEPs can read it, but citizens should also have access to what is decided about their rights. I don’t feel particularly bound to any confidentiality, especially as the Commission has been making public statements, why should I be quiet about it? The whole situation is not […]

Dutch MEP claims European politicians gagged over US data sharing ...