Enforcement notices: rectification and erasure of personal data etc

Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 20th March 2018.

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

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

The clause bites on the question of individuals’ rights to the erasure of personal data and rectification. I want to give the Minister an opportunity to update the Committee on her conversations with media, culture and other organisations about how she is going to balance the implementation of clause 150 with the ambitions of those organisations to protect archives—not just archives of very large sets of artefacts, such as the Natural History Museum, but those that are run by News UK or Trinity Mirror or the BBC.

The risk that is obviously posed by those organisations is that they often rely on very good, detailed and often quite old archives of news information. The scenario that was put to us last night by lawyers representing a number of those organisations that wanted to give us their views about clauses 168 and 169 was that successful journalism—whether The Daily Telegraph or the Swindon Advertiser—will often rely on excellent archives.

If rich individuals are seeking to create a different truth and a different history, and to exercise their rights under the clause, a risk will be created for those media organisations. I am more worried about the media organisations’ rights than I am about the Natural History Museum and the BBC, because I think the Minister’s Department will do a good job of working out where to put that grey line round what should be protected and what is up for grabs. The example put to us last night was of rich individuals seeking to create a different kind of history—a different kind of past—to bend deliberately the future of reporting by eradicating a record that might be true. The risk that was put to us is that, very often, newspaper legal directors—the poor things often have to advise on this decision—will sometimes conclude that the game is just not worth it and therefore give in to the rich individual to avoid damaging and expensive legal action and delete the records from their archives.

This is a difficult area, where balances have to be struck, but it is a form of litigation that will doubtless continue into the future. We might have just decided to deny access to ordinary people to correct media malpractice, but rich individuals will continue to bring their cases. Will the Minister tell us how the balance will play out in practice? How do we protect the rights of news organisations to run good archives for the benefit of public interest journalism in the future?

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The clause makes additional provision for enforcement notices where the subject matter of the notice relates to the controller or processor’s failure to comply with the data protection principle of ensuring accuracy. The clause may also apply where a controller or processor has failed to comply with the data subject’s rights on rectification, erasure or restriction of processing under articles 16 to 18 of the general data protection regulation.

We touched on the issue of archives in one of the Committee sittings last week. I explained to the Committee that there is protection for archives under the GDPR, whether they be those of news organisations or of academic sources. We are aware of the concerns expressed by organisations representing archives, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that quality journalism often depends on the use of such archives. However, I assure him that my Department will defend the rights of journalists and the press as tenaciously as we would defend the rights of archivists in the great museums of our country against the distortions that he gave as examples of people perhaps wanting to use the right to be forgotten in an excessive manner and in a bid to rewrite history. We are aware of such individuals, and we are comfortable that the GDPR prevents those abuses.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 150 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 151 and 152 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 153