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Privacy Impact Assessments

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th January 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Spokesperson in the Lords, Home Affairs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What use is being made of Privacy Impact Assessments as a means of identifying possible privacy concerns in public policy; and

Whether they have conducted full-scale Privacy Impact Assessments for the introduction of (a) identity cards, (b) Contact Point, (c) the National DNA Database, and (d) NHS electronic care records; and what alternatives the assessments uncovered; and

Which Government departments have made use of a Privacy Impact Assessment tool.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

On 11 December 2007 the Information Commissioner hosted a conference entitled "Surveillance Society: Turning Debate into Action", at which he launched his Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) handbook. The Government acknowledge that PIAs can be useful in maintaining the balance between the needs of today's society for more information to be shared and protecting privacy.

There is no requirement currently for government departments to conduct PIAs and no full-scale PIAs have been conducted in respect of identity cards, Contact Point, the National DNA Database, or NHS electronic care records. However, policy makers are already asked to take account of the full range of economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of their proposals, and where privacy issues have a material impact on assessing the impact of proposals, these would also be taken into account.

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