Update: The Cabinet Office has responded to our request for comment.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "Views from many groups, including the Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group, were taken into account when establishing the Digital Economy Act 2017."
Original story below:
An advisor on privacy to the Cabinet Office has stepped down from his role, complaining that since Francis Maude stepped down no-one in government has taken an interest in the issue.
Jerry Fishenden, chair of the Cabinet Office's Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group's (PCAG) claimed that the lack of ministerial backing had made his role untenable.
The PCAG was set up to provide the government with independent expert review, analysis, guidance and feedback on all personal data and privacy initiatives within the public sector.
It was put together by Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office (MCO), to help detect and fix policy and technology issues before they got too far down the policy or Bill process - the idea being to avoid fiascos such as the Identity Card Act.
Fishenden was named chair of the group six years ago, and more recently shared the role as a co-chair.
In a personal blog, Fishenden said that the group had reviewed and commented on a wide range of government initiatives "including predicting the disaster that became NHS care.data, the fraud risks of ill-considered data sharing the troubled and late-running GOV.UK Verify identity assurance programme, the Office of National Statistics use of data, the ‘digital transformation' of the electoral roll, Home Office fraud issues, the Investigatory Powers Bill (now Act), and other proposals and ideas from across government".
However, he said that since Maude's departure there had only been one meeting with subsequent MCOs - and that was back in 2015.
"PCAG has experienced less ministerial level support and encouragement than it once had. Without such backing, those officials who find the group's expert reviews and analyses 'challenging' have found it easier to ignore, attempting instead to smuggle their often half-baked proposals past ministers without the benefit of the group's independent assistance," he claimed.
Fishenden said that the PCAG had worked hard to ensure the continued backing of subsequent MCOs, even going as far as to extend open invites to the MCO's office via the Government Digital Service (GDS). He said a letter had been sent in June 2016 to then MCO Matt Hancock MP, with a follow-up letter sent to the next MCO, Ben Gummer MP, in September 2016.
However, the former PCAG chair said that despite repeated attempts by GDS to chase a response from the MCO's office, there had been no acknowledgement or response to either letter.
"I can only assume from this lack of engagement that PCAG's canary function is either no longer understood, or no longer valued," Fishenden concluded.
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