Government seeking greater data privacy assurances for UK citizens

UK authorities are seeking to make it much easier for the average citizen to remove private details and personal data which has been unnecessarily exposed online.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey wants to make sure that everyone has the powers to demand that internet service providers erase or properly secure data which is being made publicly available in a manner which is seen as being in violation of basic rights to privacy.

The issue of privacy online has become a hot topic in the UK and it was during a discussion in the Commons that Mr Vaizey raised the idea that people should be able to get in touch with a watchdog that has the power to help them, when they feel that they are being treated unfairly in relation to personal data.

Mr Vaizey believes that the government needs to get involved in this conversation and facilitate consultations with ISPs and the public, so that real issues being raised on a daily basis are dealt with in an appropriate manner.

According to Mr Vaizey the government appreciates the difficulty of achieving total privacy online but he is convinced that the best way to improve the relationship between consumers and the businesses which they deal with on the internet, is to enable a dialogue to exist between the two camps.

The association which speaks for ISPs said that enabling individual users to highlight exposed private data and then require its removal by providers would add to the burden of duty currently facing these firms and, as such, might not be a viable option.

The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), explained that it would be largely powerless to take down content hosted in other nations and pointed out that there is a process in place to help consumers notify UK ISPs when private data is illegally made available online.

The debate surrounding data privacy is being partly fuelled by the recent revelations about Google’s data harvesting actions using its Street View vehicles, while social networking site Facebook has also been accused of making it difficult for users to keep details private while using the service.

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