Despite risking becoming just a referral site for ARCH blog, I feel compelled to point people in the direction of this one.
Here's a taster, as quoted by them from the Guardian:
"Ministers are preparing to overturn a fundamental principle of data protection in government, the Guardian has learned. They will announce next month that public bodies can assume they are free to share citizens' personal data with other arms of the state, so long as it is in the public interest.
The policy was agreed upon by a cabinet committee set up by the prime minister, and reverses the current default position - which requires public bodies to find a legal justification each time they want to share data about individuals."
If this really is all in the public interest, what is the problem?
The problem with this proposal, apart from the complete destruction of privacy, the likelihood of a massive increase in data sharing - most of which will be unnecessary, the probable abuses of the system and high chance of errors, increased state expenditure, and the assumption of statist rights to intrusion and by implication to exist as if by divine right, is that the public interest is decided centrally. A state-decided "public interest" may not actually be in the interest of the public, or it may be in the interests of some and not other members of the public.
By way of an example, it is now assumed that it is in the interests of the public to know where children are being educated. Whilst this may be in the interests of a section of the population, such as those children who are being educationally neglected, it contravenes the inclinations of home educating parents who want to be left alone by the state to educate their children as they see fit and without an LEA officer with their unsupported assumptions that they know best, telling parents how to do it.
There are no obvious and established answers to the question of public interest and the current precedent should therefore remain.