Legal red tape has forced a rethink of the data sharing plans intended to reduce the time it takes to renew and apply for passports.
The UK Passport Service (UKPS) wanted to automate ID checking processes involving databases owned by other public sector agencies and by some credit reference firms.
But UKPS chief executive Bernard Herdan admitted in an exclusive interview with vnunet.com that its plans would have required new government legislation, because of the existing data protection laws.
Trials will still go ahead later this year, allowing the Glasgow Passport Office to use the address history held by credit reference firm Equifax, but only when the applicant has given permission.
To speed up the application process the UKPS would like to access Equifax's records without seeking consent in every case.
Its hopes have been lifted by indications made to vnunet.com by data protection watchdog the Information Commission that it would accept more data sharing between government departments providing it is backed by new legislation.
"But any legislation would have to be detailed about what information could be shared, if government departments were to retain public trust," said Phil Boyd, assistant Information Commissioner.
Such a move would also be a requirement for any national ID database, such as that proposed by home secretary David Blunkett.
Herdan said that sharing data on public registers such as the births, marriages and deaths registers, which is allowed, had helped the UKPS eliminate so-called 'Day of the Jackal' type frauds, where applications are made for recently deceased people.
He claimed that relaxing current data protection laws would allow the UKPS to send out renewal notices months in advance of a passport's expiry date, speeding up applications.
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