To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent action the Government has taken to ensure that internet users are not sharing personal information to online companies and third parties without their consent.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister asked Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Dr. Mark Walport to conduct a consultation on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors as part of their independent Data Sharing Review.
The review team is now analysing the results from the consultation exercise and the report will consider whether there should be any changes to the way the Data Protection Act 1998 operates in the UK and the options for implementing any such changes. The report will include recommendations on the powers and sanctions available to the regulator and courts in the legislation governing data sharing and data protection. It will also make recommendations how data sharing policy should be developed in a way that ensures proper transparency, scrutiny and accountability. My right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice will publish the report later in the year.
The Data Protection Act gives citizens the right to know what information is held about them and sets rules to make sure organisations handle their personal information properly. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations set out rules for people who wish to send electronic direct marketing, for example e-mails and text messages. The Government and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) keep legislation under review in the light of ever-increasing technological changes in the field of data protection.
For example on the matter of Phorm, the ICO made a statement on