Data Protection Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Chair, Artificial Intelligence Committee, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital), Chair, Artificial Intelligence Committee 7:15 pm, 13th November 2017

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, has been admirably brief in the pre-dinner minutes before us and I will be brief as well. This is a very important aspect of the debate and, despite the fact that we will be taking only a few minutes over it, I hope that we will return to it at a future date.

I note that the Conservative manifesto talked about a data ethics body, and this is not that far away from that concept. I think that the political world is coalescing around the idea of an ethics stewardship body of the kind recommended by the Royal Society and the British Academy. Whatever we call it—a rose by any other name—it will be of huge importance for the future, perhaps not as a regulator but certainly as a setter of principles and of an ethical context in which AI in particular moves forward.

The only sad thing about having to speed up the process today is that I am not able to take full advantage of the briefing put forward by the Royal Society. Crucially, it recommends two things. The first is:

“A set of high-level principles to help visibly shape all forms of data governance and ensure trustworthiness and trust in the management and use of data as a whole”.

The second is:

“A body to steward the evolution of the governance landscape as a whole. Such a stewardship body would be expected to conduct expert investigation into novel questions and issues, and enable new ways to anticipate the future consequences of today’s decisions”.

This is an idea whose time has come and I congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Kennedy, on having tabled the amendment. I certainly think that this is the way forward.