The Scottish Executive has produced guidance for the public sector in making decisions over data sharing within the public sector. The Executive views data sharing as necessary to deliver benefits to citizens in terms of delivering improved services to citizens.

The Executive has outlined six main principles in its approach to improving data sharing:

  • Balancing joined up, modern public services with the legal right to privacy
  • Most efficient and effective use of data available
  • Taking the least intrusive approach - recognising protection of privacy as a public service
  • Greater choice for citizens in the use of their personal data
  • Open, transparency and consultation where data is used or shared with the consent of the individual
  • Recognising personal information processed for statistical purposes may involve different issues

The guidance outlines the existing legal framework for data use, including the Data Protection Act 1998 and Human Rights Act 1998, along with discussion on the law of confidence. A checklist of the relevant legal considerations to be borne in mind when dealing with data sharing requests, along with considerations such as:

  • Determining whether you have the power to carry out the function to which the data sharing relates
  • Determining whether Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights would be infringed by the sharing of the particular data

Determining whether data sharing would breach any Data Protection Principles, coupled with any other common law or statutory obligations.

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