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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative 7:30 pm, 13th November 2017

My Lords, clearly the Royal Society has been talking to other people. I hope that someone from there is listening and will be encouraged to talk to me too. I am delighted with this amendment and think it is an excellent idea, paired with amendment 77A, which gives individuals some purchase and the ability to know what is going on. Here we have an organisation with the ability to do something about it, not by pulling any levers but by raising enough of a storm and finding out what is going on to effect change. Amendments 77A and 78A are a very good answer to the worries we have raised in this area.

It is important that we have the ability to feel comfortable and to trust—to know that what is going on is acceptable to us. We do not want to create divisions, tensions and unhappiness in society because things are going on that we do not know about or understand. As the noble Lord said, the organisations running these algorithms do not share our values—it is hard to see that they have any values at all other than the pleasures of the few who run them. We should not submit to that. We must, in all sorts of ways, stand up to that. There are many ways in which these organisations have an impact on our lives, and we must insist that they do that on our terms. We are waking up quite slowly. To have a body such as this, based on principles and ethics and with a real ability to find out what is going on, would be a great advance. It would give me a lot of comfort about what is happening in this Bill, which otherwise is just handing power to people who have a great deal of power already.