Tories plan to scrap the National Identity Register and ContactPoint database and empower the Information Commissioner's Office

Conservative Party plans to reduce Government databases and boost the power of the Information Commissioner's Office have been welcomed.

The Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve launched a new policy paper this week that contains plans to reduce the role of surveillance and protect the public's privacy. It proposes, should it win the next election, to scrap the National Identity Register and ContactPoint databases and restrict and restrain local council access to personal communications data.

It will also appoint a minister and senior civil servant (at director general level) in each government ministry with responsibility for departmental operational data security.

Regarding the Information Commissioner, the office will be tasked to publish guidelines on best practice in data security in the public sector and carry out a consultation with the private sector, with a view to establishing guidance on data security, including examining the viability of introducing an industry-wide kite mark system of best practice.

Grieve said: “This Government's approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all worlds – intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. As we have seen time and time again, over-reliance on the database state is a poor substitute for the human judgment and care essential to the delivery of frontline public services. Labour's surveillance state has exposed the public to greater – not less – risk.”

Jamie Cowper, director of EMEA marketing at PGP, welcomed the proposed changes, claiming that it was clear that much more has to be done to secure the nation's data.

Cowper said: “It's interesting that the Tories want to give the Information Commissioner greater powers to punish organisations which flout data protection legislation, but the proposed best practice guidelines will be equally important if organisations are to prevent the data breaches of tomorrow.

“All measures designed to protect the public's data, such as those proposed by Dominic Grieve, should of course be welcomed, but the security of our personal information must be considered a basic human right, not just be the remit of one individual party.

“We'd like to see genuine cross-bench initiatives to establish clear data security procedures for both private and public sector organisations and to dramatically reduce the incidence of severe data breaches.”

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