One in Four of British Government Databases Are Illegal Says Report

Up to a quarter of databases currently maintained by the UK Government are illegal and should either be overhauled or scrapped altogether according to a report produced by the influential Joseph Rowntree Reform trust.

Amongst the 46 public sector databases analysed in the report, 11 were found to be "almost certainly" illegal under current human rights or data protection laws in what is an embarrassing statistics for the current government.

Only six of the databases examined were found to abide by the existing legal framework. The remaining 29 databases all had significant shortcomings which were highlighted in the report.

The Trust claims that vulnerable groups such as young black men, single parents and children could end up being victimised as a result of having their data on them stored in large information vats.

It also claims that the UK "database state", which incidentally is the title of the report, is costing tax payers billions of pounds adding that the UK government spends £16 billion a year, expecting that number will more than double over the next five years to £37 billion a year.

Some of the databases that have been listed as being illegal include the Child database Contactpoint, the National DNA database, the communications database, child profiling tool Onset and the Detailed Care Record, a Wikipedia style tool for hospital staff and social workers.

Official figures show that 70 percent of public sector IT projects end as failures and the government already have thousands of databases under the control fo Whitehall.

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Our Comments

The databases in themselves are not an issue and can be quite helpful in many cases. What experts and observers agree to though is that the current government is fundamentally inept at database management and has shown it several times in the past few years. Not only is it putting lives at risk, it is also siphoning precious financial resources and undermining the public's confidence in the power and rights of the state.

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