Government must work with private sector on data security
03 December 2012
By Matthew D'Arcy
Sharing data across government can deliver significant benefits but a balance must be struck with privacy a senior MP has said, arguing that closer working with private companies could help achieve this.
Crispin Blunt, a former justice minister who also held various shadow posts when the Conservatives were in opposition, said the issues of data sharing and data security were "extremely timely and important".
"There are significant efficiencies to be gained by promoting better collaboration and access to data across government departments and agencies," he told Publicservice.co.uk.
But he felt private sector expertise could be drawn on more to address challenges.
"This is a complex issue and we need to work with the private sector to ensure this is progressed in a cost efficient way with the appropriate safe guards to strike the right balance of protecting the privacy of the individual and providing more cost-effective services to the general public," he said.
Public and private sectors had come together "en masse" at a recent even he chaired in Parliament. They met to discuss best practise to make the issue of data sharing as transparent as possible to the public.
"The feeling in the room was that there is much the sectors can learn together and that by working a little closer, everyone, including the consumer, stands to benefit significantly," said Blunt.
"I think this partnership is especially important in times of austerity. Both sectors have so much to learn from each other and can act as a critical friend to one another."
Bob Pickles, public affairs director for Canon added that just 12 per cent of consumers believed organisations were doing enough to protect their personal data.
"There is clearly an opportunity for private and public sector organisations to raise consumer confidence by openly communicating security credentials to help everyone become more aware of the importance of data security," he said.
The comments came at a time when a growing number of public sector bodies have faced fines for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act and also at a time when ministers are urging departments and the wider public sector to open access to their data.