Information commissioner Christopher Graham has warned that the increasing amount of personal data being created and shared by citizens through government channels is putting privacy at risk.
Speaking at a London event attended by representatives from universities, businesses and the Cabinet Office, Graham said that an increasingly digital world is posing a unique threat to people's anonymity.
"Data sharing is the key to delivering services efficiently, but ensuring that important personal information remains anonymous is an ever-increasing challenge," he said.
"Just by going about our everyday lives, our movements, browsing habits and personal information are constantly being captured."
Graham added that the government's desire to make more of its data sets will only exacerbate the problem.
"The positive benefits of greater transparency are not in question; there is more accountability and better research, which can help improve public services," he said.
"But what is up for debate is how best we can assess the privacy risks. Data sets are derived from masses of bits of personal information. But when can a statistic lead to someone being identified?"
The Information Commissioner's Office will publish a report in the coming weeks that summarises key points raised at the event and looks at the next steps it can take to further this debate.
Paul Ohm, associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School, also spoke at the event, saying that an entirely new approach to privacy is required if governments are to meet the challenges of the digital age.
"The way we protect privacy today - through laws and the way we design computer systems - seems stuck in the last century. We need to realise the entirely new classes of threats to privacy that have recently arisen," he said.
"In light of these threats, we must debate how we should regulate privacy in the twenty-first century."
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