Straw scraps plan for 'Big Brother' database

By Ben Russell, Home Affairs Correspondent

Wednesday 18 March 2009 01:00

Sweeping "Big Brother" plans to give officials and police unprecedented access to the sensitive personal data of millions of people have been scrapped after an outcry from campaigners, doctors and lawyers.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, formally dropped proposals yesterday in which personal data, from DNA and medical records to tax and other information, would be shared across Whitehall departments, police and other public bodies. Campaigners said the plans in the Coroners and Justice Bill was the first step on the road to a "Big Brother state". The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the proposals will be removed before the final debates, in the Commons next week. But ministers could add them to future legislation.

The Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, David Howarth, said: "I am relieved that the Government has finally seen sense and scrapped these extraordinarily broad and dangerously ill-thought-out provisions."

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