Data integrity and security

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 19 April 2016.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester

I seek the Minister’s guidance. Throughout our considerations, I have spoken of my fears whether data held under this Act are held securely. I hope that clause 81 will address many of my fears; I seek the Minister’s advice on whether it lays responsibility on communications providers to maintain those data securely. I simply reiterate my concern that when theft does take place, there has to be a consideration of an offence of unlawful possession of stolen data, on the basis that the communications provider that has suffered the theft would also be legally responsible for that theft when the provider is in fact a victim of the theft itself. Bodies that seek to obtain illicitly a person’s private communications data may try to make financial gain as a result. Is the Minister confident that clause 81 gives me the kind of assurances that I have been looking for on internet security? Is there sufficient deterrent, in terms of possession of unlawfully obtained data, that might be included later in the Bill?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman has been consistent in stating his concerns. I assure him that clause 81 contains the sort of requirements that he would reasonably expect. It sets out the matter clearly. It should be read in conjunction not only with other legislation that I have mentioned, such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, but with clause 210, which provides for the Information Commissioner to audit the security, integrity and destruction of retained data, and the codes of practice to which I referred earlier. The provisions in the communications data draft code of practice go into more detail about the security arrangements.

We had a discussion some days ago about the existence of adequate criminal legislation. The Bill has a number of provisions that relate to those who hold data, and we discussed whether existing legislation could cover those who come into possession of the data unlawfully. I say to the hon. Gentleman that I will take the matter away and consider it, and come up with a proper considered response to his query.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 81 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 82 and 83 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 84