Scotland-wide ID database risks personal privacy and civil liberties – UK Information Commissioner


Severin Carrell reports in the Guardian that the UK Information Commissioner says proposals to put every Scottish citizen on a central database accessible to 120 public bodies, risks breaching data protection laws and privacy standards.

The Scottish SNP Government wants a single central identity database known as “Myaccount”, which public bodies would use to allow users to access services.  However, the scheme is similar to the UK ID card and national identity register that was rejected on civil liberties grounds by the UK government in 2010.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) said ministers had failed to carry out the necessary privacy impact assessment before drafting proposals, and had failed to explicitly set out the reasons why the new national database was needed.  It also said that Scottish ministers were unwise to reject the much more privacy-friendly system for accessing public services now being considered by the Cabinet Office, where an independent third-party body verifies someone’s identity.

In a letter to Scottish ministers, Ken Macdonald, the ICO’s assistant commissioner, said:

“If we are to have a national identity number this should be the subject of proper debate and be accompanied by suitable safeguards. It should not just happen by default.”