Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Con)
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My Lords, I rise briefly to support the amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Harding and the others in this group. She has comprehensively explained their importance; they may not be philosophical, as she says, but they have practical importance. One of the most compelling reasons for us to act is as she so precisely described: if we do not, we create a situation in the real world that the Bill seeks to address in the digital world.

Although this is about direct marketing, allied to it are pressures on advertising revenues and the greater control that is being taken by the larger platforms in this area all the time. The effect that has on revenues means that this is an important issue that deserves a proper response from the Government. I hope that my noble friend the Minister acts in the way that we want by, if not accepting one of these amendments, coming forward with something from the Government.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab)
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My Lords, I can also be relatively brief. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken and the noble Baroness, Lady Harding, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for their amendments, to many of which I have added my name.

At the heart of this debate is what constitutes a disproportionate or impossibility exemption for providing data to individuals when the data is not collected directly from data subjects. Amendments 29 to 33 provide further clarity on how exemptions on the grounds of disproportionate effort should be interpreted —for example, by taking into account whether there would be a limited impact on individuals, whether they would be caused any distress, what the exemptions were in the first place and whether the information had been made publicly available by a public body. All these provide some helpful context, which I hope the Minister will take on board.

I have also added my name to Amendments 27 and 28 from the noble Baroness, Lady Harding. They address the particular concerns about those using the open electoral register for direct marketing purposes. As the noble Baroness explained, the need for this amendment arises from the legal ruling that companies using the OER must first notify individuals at their postal addresses whenever their data is being used. As has been said, given that individuals already have an opt-out when they register on the electoral roll, it would seem unnecessary and impractical for companies using the register to follow up with individuals each time they want to access their data. These amendments seek to close that loophole and return the arrangements back to the previous incarnation, which seemed to work well.

All the amendments provide useful forms of words but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Harding, said, if the wording is not quite right, we hope that the Minister will help us to craft something that is right and that solves the problem. I hope that he agrees that there is a useful job of work to be done on this and that he provides some guidance on how to go about it.