Detica: UK could stay behind in information sharing

by Editor 7/16/2008 4:22:00 PM
detica,detica jobs,IT consulting jobs
Technology and business consulting firm Detica says that the UK government must address the challenges of international information sharing as soon as possible or the country may find itself left behind by the rest of Europe.

The UK is already falling behind in personal information sharing owing to identity theft fears and lack of trust in the Government when it comes to safeguarding privacy.

“In our increasingly mobile world, cross-border travel is now fast becoming the norm, particularly in Europe with the free labour market. From a public services perspective, personal information needs to be equally mobile and travel with people across borders so that authorities can determine their entitlement to benefits such as healthcare. In the UK, we are being held back by public debate and concerns over data protection, which means that information sharing initiatives are seen as threats to our personal privacy,” says Anthony Golledge from Detica’s Government division, adding:

“We need to find ways to carefully 'open up' our benefits databases and healthcare records systems. If we get left behind, the risks are two-fold. Firstly, UK citizens will find it more difficult to get public services in Europe — such as healthcare — to which they are entitled. Secondly, information sharing between these databases and IT systems helps us close the loopholes that fraudsters can exploit to use public services like the NHS for free. Clearly, sharing information across borders to improve services and spot the digital footprints that are strong indicators of fraud or abuse will involve making some trade-offs between security and privacy, but we need to act quickly.”

The consequences of the country’s lagging behind in information sharing include putting Europeans travelling to Britain and UK residents travelling to the European mainland at a disadvantage because of the lack of access to public services when they travel.

“The information revolution and the explosion in digital data has truly changed the world and is forcing us to rethink all aspects of our lives as a consequence — just as fraudsters and benefit cheats have been doing. There are huge potential advantages for European citizens if Governments can co-ordinate international information sharing on a much wider scale. In the UK, the Government's National Identity Scheme has a vital role to play in plugging our information sharing gap by giving us a 'passport' to access our personal information wherever we are. We will need to balance our very real concerns for personal privacy with the potential benefits to our health, security and way of life. Ultimately, getting this balance right will have major implications for many other aspects of our lives, from vetting foreign teachers coming to work in UK schools to deciding whether somebody should be granted asylum in the UK,” Golledge concludes.

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