Gordon Brown talks tough on data sharing

Gordon Brown talks tough on data sharing

Private and public sectors should review current practices

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on public and private sector organisations to reconsider the way they use and share data in a speech announcing an extension of civil liberties in Britain.

Brown called for a "new chapter in our country's story of liberty", including an increased protection of private data, during a 30-minute speech delivered at the University of Westminster.

"We should not fear the advent of the information age, and it should not lead us to abandon or fear for our values," he said.

"But at the same time I believe we require a new and imaginative approach to accountability and to winning people's trust in the ways in which information is held and used."

The prime minister called for a review on the way data is held in the public and private spheres.

"I believe we need a wider debate across the public and private sectors about the right form of independent oversight and parliamentary scrutiny and safeguards," he said.

Parliamentary legislation must draw on British tradition to ensure data protection for all citizens, according to Brown.

"It is the British way to insist that we do all we can to protect individual citizens and their rights," he stated.

"So we must always ensure that there is (as we have legislated on ID cards) proper accountability to parliament, with limits to use of the data enshrined in parliamentary legislation.

"The exercise of responsibilities in this area [should be] subject to regular and open scrutiny by parliament, with detailed reports on any new powers published and laid before it."