Liability of directors etc

Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 22nd 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) 12:00 pm, 22nd March 2018

The debate presents what is potentially a good opportunity to offer a flow of advice to the Minister, if I might pose my question like this: if a company based in the UK has committed an offence, but its holding company is based somewhere else, in what way will clause 191 bite not on the UK operations, but on the holding company elsewhere?

My reading of the extraterritoriality provisions is that the implementation of GDPR and the sanctions around it may well bite in Europe—we will get on to this issue in the debate on extraterritoriality, as the Minister has said—but where companies are registered in, heaven forbid, various tax havens around the world such as Panama or Belize, will the Information Commissioner be able to, in effect, bring prosecutions that will result in action biting on a director of a holding company domiciled somewhere abroad, such as Belize? That is a pretty plausible scenario. Again, this touches on whether the sanctions in the Bill are sufficient to deter the kind of misbehaviour that we now know is running loose around the wild west that the Secretary of State described.

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

The clause allows proceedings to be brought against a director, or a person acting in a similar position, as well as the body corporate, where it has been proven that breaches of the Act have occurred with the consent, connivance or negligence of that person. The clause will have the same effect as that of section 61 of the Data Protection Act 1998. I might have to come back to the right hon. Gentleman on some of the points he raised in that hypothetical circumstance, which I have no doubt could certainly exist in the future.

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

I would be grateful if the Minister wrote to me on that this afternoon, because if there are deficiencies we will have to get on with preparing amendments for consideration on Report.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 191 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 192 to 195 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 196