Published by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.The Garden House, Water End, York, YO30 6WQwww.jrrt.org.ukCompany registered in England No. 357963ISBN 978-0-9548902-4-7 The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd. 2009
ContentsForeword by David Shutt2About the Authors3About the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.3Acknowledgements3Executive Summary and Recommendations4Chapter 1. Introduction8Chapter 2. Survey of Public-Sector Databases112.1 Department of Health122.2 Department for Children, Schools and Families172.3 Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills202.4 Home Office212.5 Ministry of Justice262.6 Treasury272.7 Department for Work and Pensions292.8 Department for Transport332.9 Non-departmental Agencies342.10 Local Government362.11 European Databases38Chapter 3. IT and Better Government403.1 Privacy and Human Rights403.2 Developing Effective Systems44Glossary48References521
Database StateForewordIn October 2007 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs lost two discs containing a copy of theentire child benefit database. Suddenly issues of privacy and data security were on the front pageof most newspapers and leading the TV news bulletins. The old line ‘if you have nothing to hide,you have nothing to fear’ was given a very public rebuttal. The millions of people affected by thisdata loss, who may have thought they had nothing to hide, were shown that they do have much tofear from the failures of the database state.In the wake of the HMRC fiasco, and all the subsequent data losses that came to light in themonths that followed, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust sponsored a meeting of academics andactivists with an interest in privacy. These experts attempted to map Britain’s database state,identifying the many public sector databases that collect personal information about us. The taskproved to be too big for one seminar, highlighting the need for a more in-depth study of the‘Transformational Government’ programme. The Trust, therefore, commissioned the Foundationfor Information Policy Research to produce this report, which provides the most comprehensivemap of Britain’s database state currently available.Of the 46 databases assessed in this report only six are given the green light. That is, only six arefound to have a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions and are proportionate and necessaryin a democratic society. Nearly twice as many are almost certainly illegal under human rights ordata protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned, while the remaining 29databases have significant problems and should be subject to an independent review.We hope this report will help to highlight the scale of the problem we are facing and inform theongoing debate about the sort of society we want to live in and how new information systems canhelp us get there.David ShuttLord Shutt of GreetlandChair of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.March 20092
About the AuthorsRoss Anderson chairs the Foundation for Information Policy Research. He is Professor ofSecurity Engineering at Cambridge University, a Fellow of the IET and the IMA, and a pioneer ofthe economics of information security.Ian Brown is a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, with a PhD in informationsecurity. He is a member of the Advisory Council and a former Director of the Foundation forInformation Policy Research.Terri Dowty is Director of Action on Rights for Children. She has many years’ experience ineducation and children’s human rights. She sits on the Advisory Council of the Foundation forInformation Policy Research.William Heath chairs Open Rights Group and two new start-ups: Mydex CIC and Ctrl-Shift Ltd.He founded the public-sector IT research business Kable, now part of Guardian News & Media.He also sits on the Advisory Council of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.Philip Inglesant is a postdoctoral researcher at University College London specialising in thehuman aspects of information systems and e-government.Angela Sasse is Professor of Human Centred Systems at University College London, specialisingin how to design and implement novel technologies that are fit for purpose and that benefitindividuals and society. She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Foundation forInformation Policy Research.About the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Limited, founded in 1904 by the Liberal, Quakerphilanthropist, Joseph Rowntree, was set up as a company which pays tax on its income and istherefore free to give grants for political and campaigning purposes, to promote democraticreform, civil liberties and social justice. It does so by funding campaigning organisations andindividuals who have reform as their objective, and since it remains one of the very few sources offunds of any significance in the UK which can do this, it reserves its support for those projectswhich are ineligible for charitable funding. The Trust aims to correct imbalances of power,strengthening the hand of individuals, groups and organisations who are striving for reform. Itrarely funds projects outside the UK, directing most of its resources towards campaigning activityin this country.AcknowledgementsWe received help from a number of people including John Suffolk, Paul Whitehouse, PaulThornton, Richard Clayton, Douwe Korff, Ruth Kennedy, Eileen Munro, Philip Virgo and NickBohm. We are also grateful to Kable for making available to us their market intelligencepublications and for input from their analysts Victor Almeida, Michael Larner, Philippe Martin andStephen Roberts.3
Database StateExecutive Summary andRecommendationsIn recent years, the Government has built or extended many central databases that holdinformation on every aspect of our lives, from health and education to welfare, law–enforcementand tax. This ‘Transformational Government’ programme was supposed to make public servicesbetter or cheaper, but it has been repeatedly challenged by controversies over effectiveness,privacy, legality and cost.Many question the consequences of giving increasing numbers of civil servants daily access to ourpersonal information. Objections range from cost through efficiency to privacy. The emphasis ondata capture, form-filling, mechanical assessment and profiling damages professional responsibilityand alienates the citizen from the state. Over two-thirds of the population no longer trust thegovernment with their personal data.This report charts these databases, creating the most comprehensive map so far of what hasbecome Britain’s Database State.All of these systems had a rationale and purpose. But this report shows how, in too many cases,the public are neither served nor protected by the increasingly complex and intrusive holdings ofpersonal information invading every aspect of our lives.The report assesses 46 databases across the major government departments, and finds that:A quarter of the public-sector databases reviewed are almost certainly illegal under humanrights or data protection law; they should be scrapped or substantially redesigned. More thanhalf have significant problems with privacy or effectiveness and could fall foul of a legalchallenge.Fewer than 15% of the public databases assessed in this report are effective, proportionateand necessary, with a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions. Even so, some of them stillhave operational problems.Britain is out of line with other developed countries, where records on sensitive matters likehealthcare and social services are held locally. In Britain, data is increasingly centralised, andshared between health and social services, the police, schools, local government and thetaxman.The benefits claimed for data sharing are often illusory. Sharing can harm the vulnerable, notleast by leading to discrimination and stigmatisation.The UK public sector spends over 16 billion a year on IT. Over 100 billion in spending isplanned for the next five years, and even the Government cannot provide an accurate figurefor cost of its ‘Transformational Government’ programme. Yet only about 30% of governmentIT projects succeed.4
Exexuctive Summary and RecommendationsThe Database State – scrap it, fix it or keep it?This report surveys the main government databases that keep information on all of us, or at leaston a very substantial minority of us, and assesses them using a simple traffic-light system.Red means that a database is almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection lawand should be scrapped or substantially redesigned. The collection and sharing of sensitivepersonal data may be disproportionate, or done without our consent, or without a proper legalbasis; or there may be other major privacy or operational problems. Most of these systems alreadyhave a high public profile. One of them (the National DNA Database) has been condemned by theEuropean Court of Human Rights, and both the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats havepromised to scrap many of the others.The red systems are:the National DNA Database, which holds DNA profiles for approximately 4 millionindividuals, over half a million of whom are innocent (they have not been convicted,reprimanded, given a final warning or cautioned, and have no proceedings pending againstthem) – including more than 39,000 children;the National Identity Register, which will store biographical information, biometric dataand administrative data linked to the use of an ID card;ContactPoint, which is a national index of all children in England. It will hold biographicaland contact information for each child and record their relationship with public services,including a note on whether any ‘sensitive service’ is working with the child;the NHS Detailed Care Record, which will hold GP and hospital records in remote serverscontrolled by the government, but to which many care providers can add their owncomments, wikipedia-style, without proper control or accountability; and the SecondaryUses Service, which holds summaries of hospital and other treatment in a central system tosupport NHS administration and research;the electronic Common Assessment Framework, which holds an assessment of a child’swelfare needs. It can include sensitive and subjective information, and is too widelydisseminated;ONSET, which is a Home Office system that gathers information from many sources andseeks to predict which children will offend in the future;the DWP’s cross-departmental data sharing programme, which involves sharing largeamounts of personal information with other government departments and the private sector;the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative, which collects sensitive information frommany different sources and under the Serious and Organised Crime Act 2007 is absolvedfrom any breaches of confidentiality;the communications database and other aspects of the Interception ModernisationProgramme, which will hold everyone’s communication traffic data such as itemised phonebills, email headers and mobile phone location history; andthe Prüm Framework, which allows law enforcement information to be shared between EUMember States without proper data protection.5
Database StateAmber means that a database has significant problems, and may be unlawful. Depending on thecircumstances, it may need to be shrunk, or split, or individuals may have to be given a right to optout. An incoming government should order an independent assessment of each system to identifyand prioritise necessary changes.There are 29 amber databases including:the NHS Summary Care Record, which will ‘initially’ hold information such as allergies andcurrent prescriptions, although some in the Department of Health appear to want to developit into a full electronic health record that will be available nationally. In Scotland, where theSCR project has been completed, there has already been an abuse case in which celebritieshad their records accessed by a doctor who is now facing charges. The Prime Minister’s ownmedical records were reported compromised. There is some doubt about whether patientswill be able to opt out effectively from this system, and if they cannot, it will be downgradedto red;the National Childhood Obesity Database, which is the largest of its kind in the world,containing the results of height and weight measurements taken from school pupils in Year 1(age 5–6) and Year 6 (10–11) since 2005. This database is simply unnecessary;the National Pupil Database, which holds data on every pupil in a state-maintained schooland on younger children in nurseries or childcare if their places are funded by the localauthority, including: name; age; address; ethnicity; special educational needs information;‘gifted and talented’ indicators; free school meal entitlement; whether the child is in care;mode of travel to school; behaviour and attendance data. It is planned to share this data withsocial workers, police and others;Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems, which are operated by multiple agencies the Highways Agency, local authorities, police forces and private firms – and will read 50mplates covering 10m drivers each day;the Schengen Information System, a European police database that lists suspects, peopleto be denied entry to Europe, and people to be kept under surveillance. It is due to bereplaced with an updated SIS-II which will also store biometric data such as fingerprints; andthe Customer Information System of the Department for Work and Pensions whichdescribes it as “one of the largest databases in Europe”. It makes 85 million records availableto 80,000 DWP staff, 60,000 staff from other government departments, and 445 localauthorities – whose staff are already abusing their access to it.Green means that a database is broadly in line with the law. Its privacy intrusions (if any) have aproper legal basis and are proportionate and necessary in a democratic society. Some of thesedatabases have operational problems, not least due to the recent cavalier attitude toward bothprivacy and operational security, but these could be fixed once transparency, accountability andproper risk management are restored.Green databases include the police National Fingerprint Database and the TV Licensingdatabase.Six years into the Transformational Government programme, the number of green databases isnow shockingly low. Of the 46 databases assessed in this report, only six are given a green light.6
Exexuctive Summary and RecommendationsSo what do we do?Based on a comprehensive analysis of Britain’s database state, the report makes the followingrecommendations for how data should be collected, held and managed by government.The databases that this report has rated as ‘Red’ should be scrapped or redesignedimmediately. ‘Amber’ databases should be subject to an independent review to assess theirprivacy impact and any benefit to society they may have.Sensitive personal information should normally only be collected and shared with thesubject’s consent – and where practical people should opt in rather than opting out.Government should compel the provision or sharing of sensitive personal data only for strictlydefined purposes, and in almost all cases, sensitive data should be kept on local rather thannational systems.Individuals should be able to enforce their privacy in court on human-rights grounds withoutbeing liable for costs – the state has massive resources to contest cases while the individualdoes not.Citizens should have the right to access most public services anonymously. We have beenmoving from a world in which departments had to take a positive decision to collect data, toone where they have to take a positive decision not to. This needs to be challenged.The report also makes a further set of recommendations on how government should go aboutdeveloping and building IT systems more effectively in the future.The procurement and development of new database systems should be subject to muchgreater public scrutiny and openness.Civil servant recruitment and training should aim at selecting and developing those with theability to manage complex systems.The threshold for referring IT projects to complex OJEU procurement procedures should beraised to 10m from the current limit of only 130,000 – this will favour medium-sizedsystems rather than unmanageable large projects.The government should make its Chief Information Officer a Permanent Secretary reportingto a senior cabinet minister.There should never again be a government IT project – merely projects for business changethat may be supported by IT. Computer companies must never again drive policy.Database State was written by a team from the Foundation for Information Policy Research thatincluded some of Britain's foremost experts in information systems and human rights.7
Database StateChapter 1. IntroductionIt was the loss on 18 October 2007 of 25m child-benefit records that finally made the databasestate a mainstream issue. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor faced hard questions in theHouse. The Chairman of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Paul Gray, resigned.The Prime Minister denied at the time that the HMRC failure was ‘systemic’. But over the followingmonths the list of public-sector bodies that owned up to losing people’s personal details swelled toinclude the RAF, Navy, MoD, Home Office, police, NHS Trusts, GPs, DVLA, the Department forWork and Pensions, other Whitehall departments and local councils. Those affected includepatients, taxpayers, welfare recipients, applicants for driving tests, students, teachers, jobapplicants, farm workers, prison staff and service personnel. The HMRC episode was anything butan isolated incident. Indeed, on 1 March 2009, the press reported that the Prime Minister’s ownmedical records had been compromised.1Computer security experts had warned for years that building ever-larger databases of personalinformation, to which ever more people have access, was not sustainable.2 InformationCommissioner Richard Thomas warned in 2004 that Britain was sleepwalking into a surveillancesociety.3 In 2006, in a more ominous but less widely reported phrase, he reported that we hadwoken up in one.4 He mentioned Britain’s 4.2m CCTV cameras, numberplate recognition, RadioFrequency Identification (RFID) tags in shops, Oyster cards, loyalty cards and credit cards, phonetapping, call monitoring and Internet surveillance.Privacy International now ranks Britain as the most invasive surveillance state and the worst atprotecting individual privacy of any Western democracy. Civil servants are now being disciplinedor sacked at the rate of one every working day for personal data breaches from HMRC, DWP andthe Home Office alone.5How did we get here?The (conflicting) ambitions to make government ‘joined-up’ and to make every public serviceavailable online date back to the dotcom boom era. Government IT spending increasedsignificantly after that boom ended, with the launch of projects such as the NHS NationalProgramme for IT. But government found targets easier to set than to achieve. As IT projectscontinued to fall far short of expectations, government focussed – with the McCartney 2001review, the formation of the Office of Government Commerce and its Gateway process – onproject management, procurement and relations with suppliers.The 2005 Transformational Government IT strategy6 promised citizens choice and personalisationin their interactions with government. However, this was to be based on centralised databases anddata sharing across traditional provider and departmental boundaries. At its heart lay not people,but great collections of data about people.Meanwhile, two different faces of government were being joined up. One is the public servicesagenda, which formalises our social compassion. It speaks of customers and choice, cares forvulnerable children, provides health and education, keeps the streets clean and generally seeks toplease. T
Chapter 2. Survey of Public-Sector Databases 11 2.1 Department of Health 12 2.2 Department for Children, Schools and Families 17 2.3 Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills 20 2.4 Home Office 21 2.5 Ministry of Justice 26 2.6 Treasury 27 2.7 Department for Work and Pensions 29 2.8 Department for Transport 33 2.9 Non-departmental .
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