Bill of Data Rights in the Digital Environment

Part of Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 22nd March 2018.

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Photo of Darren Jones Darren Jones Labour, Bristol North West 12:45 pm, 22nd March 2018

I agree entirely. I confess I never got all the way through my version of Piketty, but the idea of value through assets, as opposed to through the stagnating wages in our economy today, plays into this conversation around data. People from poorer backgrounds may not inherit houses or land, but they create their own data every day. It is an asset that should belong to them. They should be able to share in its value when companies around the world are making enormous profits off the back of it. In this digital age, there is a huge call for equality of opportunity and equality of access. We need to try to get those right in these fundamental understandings of the digital market and the rights that exist around it.

Lastly, I encourage and strengthen my right hon. Friend’s arguments on the application of these principles to children. The Committee has already debated how parental consent is not needed after the age of 13. One of my early jobs as legal counsel at BT was the dubious task of consolidating terms and conditions. Hon. Members who are no doubt happy customers of BT, with perhaps broadband, TV and sport, would originally have had to read five or six different documents that were very long and complicated. I had to consolidate those. That was not good enough, so I commissioned a YouTube star to do a video, which can be seen on the terms and conditions page, to try to explain some of these things. Even for adults, this was a really hard and laborious task.

I am not saying that it is for Government to tell businesses how to communicate to children. Second Reading and some of the Committee’s debates show—dare I say it—that we are probably not best placed to have those conversations. However, it is really important that there is an expectation on businesses that they take steps to ensure that children are properly engaged and really understand what they are signing up to, especially as the Government have opted to go to the minimum range for consent, going to 13.

I just wanted to re-emphasise the debate on ownership and on children. I support my right hon. Friend’s new schedule and new clauses, and I hope the Government will support them.