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Data-sharing plan 'isn't Big Brother'

No new mega-database, says government
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

No new mega-database, says government

Plans to share more information across the public sector are not a step towards a 'Big Brother' state, the government has insisted.

It wants to share more information between departments and agencies, and claims this will also make life easier for the citizens because they won't have to repeatedly give the same information to different organisations.

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Secretary of State for Work and Pensions John Hutton told Radio 4's Today programme that because government agencies don't usually share information they don't provide a "joined-up service" for the public.

Hutton added: "We are not proposing a new database - we are not proposing new IT systems here."

And he insisted: "There isn't going to be a computer whirring away in the background spying on everyone."

But not everyone is convinced. Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell said: "Blair's Britain now has the most intrusive government in our history," while Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of anti-ID cards group No2ID, said the government has such a poor track-record on protecting personal information and linking computer systems that "to imagine this will increase efficiency is ludicrous".

Before Christmas the government ditched plans for a single mega-database to hold all ID cards information. It said it made sense for security reasons to store the data across three different systems.

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