Information Orders

Part of Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge 5:45 pm, 9th May 2018

I want to endorse new clause 4, which was so ably set out my right hon. Friend Liam Byrne from the Opposition Front Bench. I went on the Bill Committee with a sense of optimism and excitement, perhaps naively, because it seemed that so much needed to be done at the moment. Almost every day new issues arise—I hardly need to say that for me, “Cambridge” and “analytics” is an unfortunate combination. In the past few days, there have been facial recognition issues in the Welsh police and Amnesty International has raised the issue of gang lists. I hoped that we could rise to the challenge. However, I fear that although the Bill is hundreds and hundreds of pages long—in the pre-digital age, it would probably have been described as being the size of a telephone book—as Members have observed, does anyone really know what it means? That is why we needed a simple set of rights that people could understand. The sad thing is that people in the wider world are doing such good work and we should be looking at it. Look at what Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt are doing to try to transfer the data away from the big tech companies to make it our data. That is key, and it is the underlying principle of the GDPR, but I am not sure that we have been able to translate it into legislation.

I make two final observations. First, the golden thread running through much of this is data adequacy, which was referred to by the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. In too many places there are genuine concerns, not just from Opposition Members but from Members in the other place, about our being tripped up on data adequacy, which is so important.

Finally, on the Information Commissioner’s role, a huge amount is being passed to her. We can have every confidence in her, but does she really have the resources, power and expertise? Most importantly, we are outsourcing some huge, really important judgments to the Information Commissioner, but I think it should be the role of this place to make those judgements in future, and I fear that we will come back to those points later in the day.