We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, in moving Amendment 119, I will also address Amendment 202 in this group. At Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Birt, made an impassioned speech which echoed my thoughts exactly. What most of us experience as crime related to the internet are the daily attempts to pick our pockets and to mug us in other ways which crowd our inboxes, even with all the filters that are in place in Parliament and much more so on one’s private email. This is the experience of the average citizen of the internet: a caricature of a Dickensian London street, a place where you always have to be on your guard, where it is not safe to be.
In the Bill the Government are giving themselves the power, potentially, to help us do something about that. These amendments are intended to probe whether the Government have gone far enough to enable them to put those things into effect. When they talk about “serious crime”, they are talking of the equivalent of murder. But “serious” to us is small crimes, repeated in large numbers, every day, which are much more likely to have an effect on us—indeed, on every citizen.
Once the Government have the access to data that they are seeking in the Bill, they have the power to help us. They can warn us, “Hang on, you’ve been on a website that’s probably infected, you ought to do something about that”, because they know everything we have done on the internet, potentially; or they can start to do that, or they can explore the possibility of helping us.
Noble Lords who were here for the debates on identity cards will remember the great issues of principle we discussed then. But the sort of information we were afraid to give a Government we give every day to Google. You give it to Nintendo if you play Pokémon GO. We are astonishingly willing to part with our information if we get something back.
However, the contract that the Government advertise in the Bill means that they get all our information and we personally will probably not get anything back, because the ills that the Government seek to address are large and rare. They are extremely unlikely to affect us directly, except emotionally of course. Crimes on the scale of a downed aircraft will directly affect a very small proportion of us. If the Government want to do us all good and to gain consent for the access to data which is involved in the Bill, surely the best way to do it is to copy the successful commercial examples and give us all something back, for this to be seen as a good thing in our daily lives. I hope that my amendments will elicit from the Government that they have given themselves sufficient power in the Bill to do us that bit of daily good, should they or we ever be able to persuade a Home Secretary that it was worth doing. I beg to move.