Clause 8 defines what constitutes personal information, for the purposes of the criminal offences defined in clauses 4 to 6. The clause defines specific areas of personal information, such as residential status or previous name, and it focuses on key pieces of information for consideration when a person is suspected of being involved in an offence. We consider that it is right to adopt a focused approach, because it is essential to have certainty in the definition of a criminal offence.
We believe that it would not be appropriate—as the Information Commissioner discussed in his written evidence—to use a broader approach, such as adopting the definition of personal data set out in section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998. To do so would mean that a potential offender would not be sure whether a behaviour is criminalised. The criminal offences defined in the Bill are those of using false identity documents to establish certain facts about a person. It is essential that those facts are set out in the definition of the offence. If a more open-ended definition is used, there is a risk that an innocent person might unwittingly be caught by an offence.