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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 15th November 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 7:00 pm, 15th November 2017

My Lords, this quite extensive group of amendments relates to the obligations on controllers and processors and the transfer of personal data to third countries. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, explained, Amendment 137B seeks to probe the necessity for the words “where applicable” in Clause 59(2)(g), which places a duty on a controller to record details of the use of profiling in the course of processing. This wording is transposed directly from Article 24 of the LED—and. to be clear, we are not excluding types of profiling from being recorded. Rather, the clause provides that all profiling is recorded where profiling has taken place. The wording acknowledges that some processing may not involve profiling.

Amendment 137C seeks to add a definition of the word “nature” as used in Clause 62(4). References to the,

“nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing”,

are found throughout the LED and we have faithfully transposed this. We accept that the nature of the processing does include the aspects set out in the noble Baroness’s amendment, but we do not believe it necessary to set that out on the face of the Bill, and there is a danger that doing so in these terms could unwittingly narrow the scope of this provision. I might add that the Information Commissioner’s Office already publishes guidance on conducting privacy impact assessments and will be issuing further guidance on issues related to the Bill in due course.

Amendment 137D to Clause 63 would confer on the Information Commissioner a power to make regulations specifying further circumstances in which a controller must consult the commissioner before undertaking processing activities. Currently the requirement is for controllers to consult the commissioner when a data protection impact assessment indicates that processing would pose a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects. Clause 63 reflects the provisions in Article 28 of the LED and sets an appropriate threshold for mandatory consultation with the Information Commissioner. This is not to preclude consultation in other cases, but I am unpersuaded that we should go down the rather unusual road of conferring regulation-making powers on the commissioner. Instead, we should leave this to the co-operative relationship we expect to see between the commissioner and controllers and, if appropriate, to any guidance issued by the commissioner.

Amendment 137E seeks to specify the content of the written advice which the Information Commissioner must provide to a controller in the event that she considers that a proposed processing operation would contravene the provisions of Part 3. I do not disagree with the point that the amendment is seeking to make—indeed, it echoes some of what is said at paragraph 209 of the Explanatory Notes—but we believe that we can sensibly leave it to the good judgment of the commissioner to determine on a case-by-case basis what needs to be covered in her advice.

Amendment 137F would expressly require controllers to account for the cost of implementation when putting in place appropriate organisational and technical measures to keep data safe. I entirely agree with the spirit of this amendment; there needs to be a proportionate approach to data protection. However, I refer the noble Baroness to Clause 53(3), which already includes a provision to this effect. On Amendment 137G, we believe the use of the present tense is correct in Clause 66(3)(a) in that the implementation of the measures is ongoing and not set in the past.

Amendment 137H would require a controller to inform the commissioner when they have restricted the information available to data subjects in the event of a data breach. Clause 66(7) is one of four instances in Part 3 where a controller may restrict the rights of data subjects. I do not believe that there is a case for singling out this provision as one where a duty to report the exercise of the restriction should apply. If the commissioner wants information about the exercise of the power in Clause 66(7), she can ask for it.

Amendment 137J seeks to add to the role of data protection officers by requiring them to update the controller on relevant developments in the data protection standards of third countries. I do not deny that awareness of such standards by police forces and others is important for the purposes of the operation of the safeguards in Chapter 5 of Part 3. However, Clause 69 properly reflects the terms of the LED. It does not preclude data protection officers exercising other functions such as the one described in Amendment 137J.

Amendments 137K, 137L and 137M relate to Clause 71, which sets out the general principles for transfers of personal data to a third country or international organisation. The whole purpose of Chapter 5 of Part 3 is to provide safeguards where personal data is transferred across borders. Given that, I am not sure what Amendment 137K would add. Amendment 137L would narrow the circumstances in which onward transfers of personal data may take place with express authorisation from the originator of the data. In contrast, Amendment 137M, in seeking to remove Clause 71(5)(b), would expand those circumstances —which I am not sure is the noble Baroness’s intention. Subsection (5) is a direct transposition of Article 35(2) of the LED, so we should remain faithful to its provisions. What constitutes the essential interests of a member state must be for the controller to determine in the circumstances of a particular case—but, here as elsewhere, they are open to challenge, including enforcement action by the commissioner if they were to abuse such provisions.

Amendment 137N would require a controller to pay due regard to any ICO guidance before coming to a decision under Clause 74(2), which relates to the transfer of data on the basis of special circumstances. The Bill already caters for this. Clause 119 places a duty on the commissioner to prepare a data-sharing code of practice and, under the general principles of public law, controllers will be required to consider the code—or for that matter any other guidance issued by the commissioner.

Finally, Amendment 137EA in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and articulated by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, seeks to set in statute the retention period for personal data derived from ANPR cameras. ANPR is an important tool used by the police and others for the prevention and detection of crime. I understand that the National Police Chiefs’ Council has recently changed its policy on the retention of ANPR records, reducing the retention period from two years to 12 months. The new policy requires all data not related to a specific case to be deleted after 12 months. This will be reflected in revised national ANPR standards. We know that the Information Commissioner had concerns about the retention of ANPR records and we welcome the decision by the NPCC in this regard.

Given this, I have no difficulty with the spirit of the noble Lord’s amendment, but the detail is too prescriptive and we are not persuaded that we should be writing into the Bill the retention period for one category of personal data processed by competent authorities. The amendment is unduly prescriptive as it takes no account of the fact that there will be operational circumstances where the data needs to be retained for longer than 12 months—in particular, where it is necessary to do so for investigative or evidential purposes.

More generally, I remind the noble Lord that the fifth data protection principle—the requirement that personal data be kept no longer than is necessary—will regulate the retention policies of controllers for all classes of personal data. In addition, Clause 37(2) requires controllers to undertake a periodic review of the need for the continued retention of data. Given these provisions, I am not persuaded that we should single out ANPR-related data for special treatment on the face of the Bill.

I apologise again for the extensive explanation of the amendments, and I hope that noble Lords will be happy not to press them.