The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s latest report on state use of personal data shows that privacy law does not adequately protect against breaches of individual rights.

The report published on August 16th shows that the way the UK government and its agencies collect, use and store personal data is deeply flawed. They may be unaware that they are breaking the law as the complexity of the legal framework means their obligations are unclear.

It also finds that it is difficult for people to know what information is held on them, by which government agency or private sector body, or how it is being used. For example, as there is currently no law regulating the use of CCTV cameras it would be very difficult for someone to find which organisations hold footage of them.

Geraldine Van Bueren, a Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“It’s important that the government and its agencies have the information they need about us to do their job, for example to fight crime, or protect our health. However, the state is holding increasing amounts of information about our lives without us knowing, being able to check that it’s accurate or being able to challenge this effectively.

“This needs to change so that any need for personal information has to be clearly justified by the organisation that wants it. The law and regulatory framework needs to be simplified and in the meantime public authorities need to check what data they have and that it complies with the existing laws.”