The Law Commission is the statutory independent body created by the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where it is needed. The aim of the Commission is to ensure that the law is:
The existing law relating to data sharing is complex and inconsistent. Public bodies often report that they are not able – or believe they are not permitted – to obtain information they need which is held by another public body. As a result, they miss out on opportunities to provide better services to citizens. At the same time, the protection of privacy and respect for human rights is fundamental to any data sharing regime.
In our latest report, Data Sharing between Public Bodies, we are asking the Government to commission a full-scale, UK-wide law reform project to map the many statutory provisions that permit and control data sharing, simplify and clarify the law so that it is easier to understand and use, and bring the law up to date.
According to Nicholas Paines QC, Law Commissioner for public law: “Data sharing law must achieve a balance between the public interest in sharing information and the public interest in protecting privacy.
“We have identified widespread misunderstanding and confusion about the statutory framework for data sharing and its relationship with data protection, human rights and the common law. In our view, an effective, long-term solution can be achieved only through UK-wide law reform. A thorough analysis of law and practice, and reforms to modernise, simplify and clarify the provisions that permit and control data sharing are needed to restore confidence to the bodies that provide public services and the citizens that use them.”
Data sharing raises issues across the UK. We are recommending that the project be referred jointly to us and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Law Commissions.
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