Clause 66

Part of Serious Crime Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 5 July 2007.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:00, 5 July 2007

The clause would insert additional wording in schedule 3 to the Data Protection Act 1998. The disclosure of sensitive information will be permitted if it is processed for the purpose of disclosure to an anti-fraud organisation of the kind that we debated this morning, or is processed by that person after being so disclosed—in other words, if it is then processed thereon. The question is: why is the clause needed? The list of sensitive personal data that are covered is broad in ambit, and it goes much further than might be perceived necessary for a simple anti-fraud purpose. It has provoked some concerns among various groups. Liberty’s briefing note says:

“We fear that this provision might instead be included because it would be too difficult in practice to separate out this kind of sensitive information from non-sensitive information which is contained in a single source of data that would be shared under these proposals.”

It adds:

“Administrative convenience is not a sufficient justification for the mass sharing of sensitive data.”

The Minister may say that the provision is required, and that it is an essential element in the fight against crime. However, it is wide ranging, and he must provide  a justification for it, an assurance that it is not based on the administrative convenience that Liberty has highlighted, and a clearer understanding of the provision’s necessity, so that we might consider it accordingly.