Data Protection Bill [HL] - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 15th November 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration) 6:00 pm, 15th November 2017

My Lords, Amendment 133ZL is an amendment to Clause 42. Clause 43 deals with a data subject’s right of access. The onus is on the data subject to ask whether their personal data is being processed. If so, they have a right of access, although there are provisions about restrictions and the controller must tell them.

We have already touched on how you know that you are a data subject. The amendment would place an obligation on the controller to tell you. I appreciate that there would be considerable practical considerations. However, in a different context, time and again during the passage of the Bill we have heard noble Lords express surprise about what organisations know about each of us. It is irritating when it is a commercial organisation; it is a different matter when it is a law enforcement body.

Amendment 133ZM is a way of asking why the information to be given to a data subject under Clause 42(2) is limited to “specific cases”. Is this is a bit of the narrative style that I referred to earlier? Restrictions are set out later in the clause. What are the specific cases to which the controller’s duties are restricted? Should there be a cross-reference somewhere? The term suggests something more—or maybe something less—than the clause provides.

Amendment 133ZN takes us to Clause 42(4), which refers to the data subject’s “fundamental rights”— this phrase is used also in a number of other clauses. My amendment would insert references to the Human Rights Act and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, seeking not to reopen the argument about the retention of the charter but to probe how fundamental rights are identified in UK law. It is not an expression that I recognise other than as a narrative term. This is fundamental—if noble Lords will forgive the pun—to my questioning and the workability of all this.

On Amendment 133ZP, the same subsection refers to an “official” inquiry. I know what that means in common sense—in human speak, if you like—but what does it mean in legislative speak?

Amendment 133ZQ is a cross-reference. I queried what was in the clause and have had exchanges with officials about it. I thought that the Minister’s name would be added to the amendment. I would have been very happy if the correction had been made quietly, but apparently that was not possible. So the drafting is not mine, but it corrects a mis-drafting—would that be a gentle term for it? At any rate, that is what the amendment is about. I beg to move.