Information Orders

Part of Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy) 5:15 pm, 9th May 2018

Those are real risks, which is why amendment 15 would delete such an important chunk of the Bill and therefore improve it.

I know that when I was a Home Office Minister, I took decisions that sometimes were wrong, and those decisions were corrected through the tribunal system. Tribunal cases were often successfully prosecuted by those who had rights that we were seeking to deny because subject access requests had been used to get the information necessary to win the argument. If we switch off that access, injustice will follow, so I urge the Government to think again and I urge Members from all parties to support amendment 15.

The last measure to which I shall speak is new clause 6, which is our proposal for a UK version of the Honest Ads Act that is currently being debated in the United States Congress. I do not want to rehearse the background to the debate for long, because for six months now a hardy group of us has been seeking to raise and unpack the new risks that we confront from countries such as Russia that are aiming at us a new panoply of active measures, including all kinds of bad behaviour online. Right now, we do not have good measures to defend the integrity of our democracy. Indeed, the most recent edition of the national security strategy did not even include the defence of the integrity of democracy among its core strategic aims.

We have to bring our election law into the 21st century as it is hopelessly out of date. We have an Electoral Commission that is unable effectively to investigate donations and money coming from abroad. The Information Commissioner has only this afternoon been given the powers that it needs. Ofcom will not investigate videos on social media and the Advertising Standards Authority does not investigate political advertising. We have a massive lacuna in which there should be good, robust legislation to police elections in the 21st century.

If we look at what is going on throughout the west, we see that we have to wake up to this risk. Giving the Electoral Commission new powers to require information about money that is used to run campaigns that try to influence votes is now a de minimis provision for a modern democracy in the digital age. We hope that the Minister will listen to us and take our ideas on board.