Friday, 16 September 2016

Scottish government accepts no responsibility for unlawful data sharing

"John Swinney faced down hostile MSPs to insist he is `wholly confident` pilots of the controversial Named Person policy had kept within the law."

"Highland Council has been running a pilot of the service in which a health worker or senior teacher is allocated to under-18s as a single point of contact for wellbeing issues since 2010..."

"[North-east] MSP Ross Thomson asked for a guarantee from Education Secretary Mr Swinney that the law had not been broken by local authorities."

"But, giving evidence to Holyrood’s education committee... he said: `Much as it has been alleged over the years, I do not run every local authority in the country. Local authorities are self-governing bodies that must take their own decisions. We provide guidance and we have done so, but each local authority must take its own decisions`."

"Earlier in the session, he agreed that he was `wholly confident` that local authorities had not fallen foul of the data-sharing provisions because `all local authorities must act within the law`..."

"A Highland Council spokeswoman said: `The Supreme Court decision related to the information-sharing provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014`."

"`These have not been commenced yet`."

"`The ruling does not relate to existing practice in Highland and elsewhere, which is covered by a range of legislation, and primarily the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act`."

Maureen Falconer, senior policy officer from the Information Commissioner`s Office encouraged practitioners working with children to share their personal and sensitive information even before the Children and Young People Bill became law. "If you`re going to share information anyway, don`t ask for consent," she said. "All you`re doing is raising expectations that people actually have a choice."

What confidence can there be in John Swinney`s confidence that there have been no data breaches in pilot areas due to the Named Person scheme, when articles are beginning to appear in the press that families` private information has been shared without knowledge or consent, and this had been been actively encouraged?

None, I think.

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