NEWS21 July 2020

DMA calls for greater council data safeguards

Covid-19 News Privacy Public Sector UK

UK – The Data and Marketing Association has warned that government plans to allow local councils full access to people’s personal data risk data and privacy breaches without proper safeguards.

Covid-19 coronavirus data graph_crop

The call for safeguards follow confirmation from the health secretary, Matt Hancock, that local directors of public health would get more access to central government data to help combat the spread of Covid-19.

“I bow to no one in my enthusiasm for the good use of data in decision making,” Hancock told parliament on Monday. “Properly used, data is one of the best epidemiological weapons that we have.

“From today, as I committed to the house last week, we are going further and putting enhanced levels of data in the hands of local directors of public health.”

But the DMA has called on the government to ensure the General Data Protection Regulation is not “sacrificed” when making the data available to councils, and to ensure council staff are fully trained and supported.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the DMA, said: “The UK government’s decision to allow local councils full data access to sensitive personal information could lead to increased public risk to data breaches and privacy neglect if staff do not have the training, support and infrastructure to put the necessary safeguards in place.

“ If we are to recover from the impact of the pandemic on UK businesses and wider society, public trust and a willingness to share data are essential, so data breaches driven by negligence could have long-lasting damage.”