By Paul Goodman
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Islington Council already has form on asking residents about their sexual orientation if they want to borrow a library book.
My colleague Harry Phibbs has written about the matter on this site previously, arguing correctly that local authorities should not be sex snoopers.
Now I see that Islington has been at it again: the Telegraph reported late last week that the council has accidentally published personal details of over 2000 people online.
These included "the names, addresses, relationship status, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual preferences of 2,400 people re-housed by the council".
It goes almost without saying that Islington's blunder was a breach of the data protection act. But it should also be asked what the council was doing collecting this data in the first place.
(The Telegraph didn't pursue this question, devoting its report instead to a very full account of Islington's blunder.)
The council cannot blame central government. Because as Harry pointed out, Eric Pickles has issued guidance stating that there is no requirement for councils to issue such surveys.
The guidance was contained in a single page – which replaced the 56 pages of John Prescott’s so-called ‘Best Value’ guidance.
Footnote: all's well that ends well, since the council said that it would be intensifying our efforts to ensure all staff receive appropriate training".