Digital Economy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:12 pm on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 1:12 pm, 13th September 2016

I thank, or at least I think I thank, the Minister for that intervention, but it is clearly not going to be on the BBC and that is clearly a question of funding. The Government are cutting funding to the BBC significantly. If that is not going to be the case, I look forward to an announcement from the Government that they are withdrawing those measures. My hon. Friend Debbie Abrahams, the shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has described this as

“a slippery slope towards further outsourcing of a social security system under siege.”

The Bill is not only notable for its inability to respond to the challenges it sets itself; it should be infamous for not even considering the challenges the digital economy presents. It has little to do with the digital economy itself and much to do with the Government’s culture of cowardice when it comes to addressing the key challenge of the digital economy: data. The only measures on data seem designed to extend the current public sector data sharing chaos to a complete free-for-all. Our data are at risk with this Bill. We do not own the data and we are not safe. Anyone can take them and the Government decide what others should see of them.

The Government want to make sharing public data easier if “benefit” can be shown, but that benefit will be decided without proper public scrutiny—indeed, without any debate. Where has the debate been?