According to Public Servant magazine:
Public servants have not been ‘clever’ when it comes to sharing people’s data, with many lacking an understanding of the rules, Francis Maude has said, arguing that a complete overhaul of outdated cultural practises is now needed so that the government can get on with improving services.
In a speech where he said alternatives were needed to a census that hadn’t fundamentally changed since 1801, the Cabinet Office minister said the public sector had not caught up with the digital age and that it needed to bring its data sharing into the 21st Century.
Maude told the Information Commissioner’s annual data protection conference that the government would now change the way the public sector worked and that new proposals would be released in May to make data sharing easier. He called on people to challenge assumptions that things could not be done and to tell government about legal and cultural barriers to data sharing.
The previous (Labour) government also tried to introduce legislation to “change the way the public sector worked and … make data sharing easier”, under Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009:
The bill also originally contained measures to allow the widespread sharing of personal data across Whitehall departments and throughout the public sector. Clause 152 was designed to introduce a fast-track process to allow ministers to share sensitive data held by the government, individuals or private companies “for any public policy purpose”, reversing the data protection principle that information provided to one government agency for one purpose should not normally be used by another for a different purpose.
The clause attracted a diverse collection of critics, including former home secretary David Blunkett, who suggested the provisions needed to be “examined thoroughly” to determine whether the powers were likely to be misused, and in March 2009 the government abandoned its data-sharing plans.
For more information, see Richard Taylor’s extended, contemporary analysis of Clause 152.