The Data Protection Bill went through the Report stage and third reading in the House of Commons yesterday. What will come next is the so called ‘Ping Pong’ between the Houses before the Bill is adopted.
The government’s exemption for immigration data remains in the Bill despite concerns by both MPs and civil society. Yvette Cooper, MP (Labour) said: “After Brexit, we need a co-operation agreement—a data adequacy agreement—with the EU, so that our police and law enforcement agencies can continue to legally share the data they need to solve crimes, stop criminals and prevent terror attacks. However, this whopping great exemption to the GDPR lying at the heart of the Bill will, as the Home Affairs Committee has warned, make it harder for us to get the data adequacy agreement that we need.”
Speaking at the House of Commons’ Exiting the European Union Committee, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham stressed the importance of having the Data Protection Bill on the statute book. She said that the UK will be in a better position than any other third country seeking adequacy as the law, designed to implement the GDPR, will tick most of the adequacy boxes. She said it would be preferable to start the talks now and address the more difficult questions on national security and surveillance later on.
The Bill provides for the ICO’s powers – they are not described in the GDPR. Recent government amendments strengthen the powers of the ICO due to the frustrations the ICO faced in its Facebook / Cambridge Analytica investigation. The Commissioner could require any person who might have knowledge about suspected breaches of the data protection legislation to provide information. She could also apply to the court for an order to force compliance. In some very urgent cases, she could seek compliance within 24 hours by deploying information or enforcement notices. The Commissioner could also access information that is stored in the cloud.
At the Commons Report stage yesterday, the Opposition sought to reopen the Leveson enquiry in relation to data protection issues, but was not successful. Data Protection Minister Matt Hancock said: “Even on its own terms this amendment does not deliver Leveson Two as envisaged. It focuses on data protection breaches and not the broad question of the future of the press, so even for those who want to vote for Leveson Two this clause is not your clause.”
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Watch the debate on Parliament TV (DP debate starting at 13.48)
Read more about these developments in the PL&B UK Report, due 18 May.