All 5 Baroness Williams of Trafford contributions to the Data Protection Act 2018

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Tue 10th Oct 2017
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Data Protection Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Home Office

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Tuesday 10th October 2017

(6 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, this has been a lengthy but excellent debate. I very much welcome the broad support from across the House for the Bill’s objectives; namely, that we have a data protection framework that is fit for the digital age, supports the needs of businesses, law enforcement agencies and other public sector bodies, and—as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said—safeguards the rights of individuals in the use of their personal data.

In bringing the Bill before your Lordships’ House at this time, it is fortunate that we have the benefit of two recent and very pertinent reports from the Communications Committee and the European Union Committee. Today’s debate is all the better for the insightful contributions we have heard from a number of members of those committees, namely the noble Lord, Lord Jay, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe.

In its report Growing Up with the Internet, the Communications Committee noted with approval the enhanced rights that the GDPR would confer on children, including the right to be forgotten, and asked for those rights to be enshrined in UK law as a minimum standard. I am pleased to say the Bill does just that. The European Union Committee supported the Government’s objective to maintain the unhindered and uninterrupted flow of data with other member states following the UK’s exit from the EU. Understandably, the committee pressed the Government to provide further details of how that outcome will be achieved.

With the provisions in the Bill, the UK starts from an unprecedented point of alignment with the EU in terms of the legal framework underpinning the exchange and protection of personal data. In August, the Government set out options for the model for protecting and exchanging personal data. That model would allow free flows of data to continue between the EU and the UK and provide for ongoing regulatory co-operation and certainty for businesses, public authorities and individuals. Such an approach is made possible by the strong foundations laid by the provisions in the Bill.

In other contributions to this debate, we have had the benefit of a wide range of experiences, including from noble Lords who are able to draw on distinguished careers in business, education, policing or the Security Service. In doing so, noble Lords raised a number of issues. I will try to respond to as many of those as I can in the time available, but if there are specific points, as I am sure there will be, that I cannot do justice to now, both my noble friend Lord Ashton and I will of course follow up this debate with a letter. 

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, asked whether the Bill was too complex. It was suggested that data controllers would struggle to understand the obligations placed on them and data subjects to understand and access their rights. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, the Bill is necessarily so, because it provides a complete data protection framework for all personal data. Most data controllers will need to understand only the scheme for general data, allowing them to focus just on Part 2. As now, the Information Commissioner will continue to provide guidance tailored to data controllers and data subjects to help them understand the obligations placed on them and exercise their rights respectively. Indeed, she has already published a number of relevant guidance documents, including—the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, will be interested to know this—a guide called Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): 12 Steps to Take Now. It sounds like my type of publication.

Other noble Lords rightly questioned what they saw as unnecessary costs on businesses. My noble friends Lord Arbuthnot and Lady Neville-Rolfe and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, expressed concern that the Bill would impose a new layer of unnecessary regulation on businesses—for example, in requiring them to respond to subject access requests. Businesses are currently required to adhere to the Data Protection Act, which makes similar provision. The step up to the new standards should not be a disproportionate burden. Indeed, embracing good cybersecurity and data protection practices will help businesses to win new customers both in the UK and abroad.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Jay, asked how the Government would ensure that businesses and criminal justice agencies could continue, uninterrupted, to share data with other member states following the UK’s exit from the EU. The Government published a “future partnership” paper on data protection in August setting out the UK’s position on how to ensure the continued protection and exchange of personal data between the UK and the EU. That drew on the recommendations of the very helpful and timely report of the European Union Committee, to which the noble Lord referred. For example, as set out in the position paper, the Government believe that it would be in our shared interest to agree early to recognise each other’s data protection frameworks as the basis for continued flow of data between the EU and the UK from the point of exit until such time as new and more permanent arrangements came into force. While the final arrangements governing data flows are a matter for the negotiations—I regret that I cannot give a fuller update at this time—I hope that the paper goes some way towards assuring noble Lords of the importance that the Government attach to this issue.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, queried the status of Article 8 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states:

“Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her”.


The Bill will ensure that the UK continues to provide a world-class standard of data protection both before and after we leave the European Union.

Several noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, in welcoming the Bill asked whether the Information Commissioner would have the resource she needs to help businesses and others prepare for the GDPR and LED and to ensure that the new legislation is properly enforced, especially once compulsory notification has ended. The Government are committed to ensuring that the Information Commissioner is adequately resourced to fulfil both her current functions under the Data Protection Act 1998 and her new ones. Noble Lords will note that the Bill replicates relevant provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which ensures that the Information Commissioner’s functions in relation to data protection continue to be funded through charges on data controllers. An initial proposal on what those changes might look like is currently being consulted upon. The resulting regulations will rightly be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in due course.

Almost every noble Lord spoke in one way or another about protecting children online, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, who referred to the Select Committee on Communications report Growing Up with the Internet. The focus of that report was on addressing concerns about the risk to children from the internet. The Government believe that Britain should be the safest place in the world to go online and we are determined to make that a reality. I am happy to confirm that the Government will publish an internet safety strategy Green Paper imminently. This will be an important step forward in tackling this crucial issue. Among other things, the Green Paper will set out plans for an online code of practice that we want to see all social media companies sign up to, and a plan to ensure that every child is taught the skills they need to be safe online.

The other point that was brought up widely, including by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, was whether it was appropriate for 13 year-olds to be able to hand over their personal data to social media companies without parental consent. We heard alternative perspectives from my noble friend Lord Arbuthnot and the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. Addressing the same clause, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford questioned the extent to which the Government had consulted on this important issue. The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, made a similar point. In answer to their specific questions, 170 organisations and numerous individuals responded to the Government’s call for views, published in April, which addressed this issue directly. The Government’s position reflects the responses received. Importantly, it recognises the fundamental role that the internet already plays in the lives of teenagers. While we need to educate children on the risks and to work with internet companies to keep them safe, online platforms and communities provide children and young people with an enormous educational and social resource, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, pointed out. It is not an easy balance to strike, but I am convinced that, in selecting 13, the Government has made the right choice and one fully compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, referred.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Jay and Lady Hamwee, stressed the importance of adequate understanding of digital issues, particularly among children. Improving digital skills is a priority of the Government’s digital strategy, published earlier this year. As noble Lords will be aware, the Digital Economy Act created a new statutory entitlement to digitals skills training, which is certainly an important piece of the puzzle. As I have already said, the Government will publish a comprehensive Green Paper on internet safety imminently which will explore further how to develop children’s digital literacy and provide support for parents and carers.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, I think it was, asked about the Government choosing not to exercise the derogation in article 80 of the GDPR to allow not-for-profit organisations to take action on behalf of data subjects without their consent. This is a very important point. It is important to note that not-for-profit organisations will be able to take action on behalf of data subjects where the individuals concerned have mandated them to do so. This is an important new right for data subjects and should not be underestimated.

The noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Patel, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Jones all expressed concern about the effect that safeguards provided in the Bill might have on certain types of long-term medical research, such as clinical trials and interventional research. My noble friend pointed out that such research can lead to measures or decisions being taken about individuals but it might not be possible to seek their consent in every case. The noble Lord, Lord Patel, raised a number of related issues, including the extent of Clause 7. I assure noble Lords that the Government recognise the importance of these issues. I would be very happy to meet noble Lords and noble Baronesses to discuss them further.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, noted that the Bill is not going to be used to place the National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care on a statutory footing. I assure them that the Government are committed to giving the National Data Guardian statutory force. A Bill to this end was introduced in the House of Commons on 5 September by my honourable friend Peter Bone MP, and the Government look forward to working with him and parliamentary colleagues over the coming months.

My noble friend Lord Arbuthnot and others questioned the breadth of delegated powers provided for in Clause 15, which allows the Secretary of State to use regulations to permit organisations to process personal data in a wider range of circumstances where needed to comply with a legal obligation, to perform a task in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority. Given how quickly technology evolves and the use of data can change, there may be occasions when it is necessary to act relatively quickly to provide organisations with a legal basis for a particular processing operation. The Government believe that the use of regulations, rightly subject to the affirmative procedure, is entirely appropriate to achieve that. But we will of course consider very carefully any recommendations made on this or any other regulation-making power in the Bill by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and I look forward to seeing its report in due course.

The noble Viscount, Lord Colville, queried the role of the Information Commissioner in relation to special purposes processing, including in relation to journalism. In keeping with the approach taken in the 1998 Act, the Bill provides for broad exemptions when data is being processed for journalism, where the controller reasonably believes that publication is in the public interest. I reassure noble Lords that the Information Commissioner’s powers, as set out in Clause 164, are tightly focused on compliance with these requirements and not on media conduct more generally. There is a right of appeal to ensure that the commissioner’s determination can be challenged. This is an established process which the Bill simply builds upon.

The noble Lord, Lord Black, questioned the power given to the Information Commissioner to assist a party or prospective party in special purposes proceedings. In this sense, “special purposes” refers to journalistic, literary, artistic or academic purposes. The clause in question, Clause 165, replicates the existing provision in Section 53 of the 1998 Act. It simply reflects the potential public importance of a misuse of the otherwise vital exemptions granted to those processing personal data for special purposes. In practice, I am not aware of the commissioner having provided such assistance but the safeguard is rightly there.

The noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, spoke eloquently about the potential impact of the Bill on museums and archives. The Government agree about the importance of this public function. It is important to note that the Data Protection Act 1998 made no express provision relating to the processing of personal data for archiving purposes. In contrast, the Bill recognises that archives may need to process sensitive personal data, and there is a specific condition to allow for this. The Bill also provides archives with specific exemptions from certain rights of data subjects, such as rights to access and rectify data, where this would prevent them fulfilling their purposes.

The noble Lord, Lord Knight, queried the safeguards in place to prevent the mining of corporate databases for other, perhaps quite distinct, purposes, and the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, made a similar point. I can reassure them that any use of personal data must comply with the relevant legal requirements. This would include compliance with the necessary data protection principles, including purpose limitation. These principles will be backed by tough new rules on transparency and consent that will ensure that once personal data is obtained for one purpose it cannot generally be used for other purposes without the data subject’s consent.

My noble friend Lord Marlesford raised the desirability of a central system of unique identifying numbers. The Bill will ensure that personal data is collected only for a specific purpose, that it is processed only where there is a legal basis for so doing and that it is always used proportionately. It is not clear to me that setting out to identify everybody in the same way in every context, with all records held centrally, is compatible with these principles. Rather, this Government believe that identity policy is context-specific, that people should be asked to provide only what is necessary, and that only those with a specific need to access data should be able to do so. The Bill is consistent with that vision.

I look forward to exploring all the issues that we have discussed as we move to the next stage. As the Information Commissioner said in her briefing paper, it is vital that the Bill reaches the statute book, and I look forward to working with noble Lords to achieve that as expeditiously as possible. Noble Lords will rightly want to probe the detailed provisions in the Bill and subject them to proper scrutiny, as noble Lords always do, but I am pleased that we can approach this task on the basis of a shared vision; namely, that of a world-leading Data Protection Bill that is good for business, good for the law enforcement community and good for the citizen. I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 13th November 2017

(6 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Data Protection Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 66-IV Fourth marshalled list for Committee (PDF, 151KB) - (13 Nov 2017)
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. There is clearly a lot of interest, as is evident from what has been said. I am also glad to be back opposite the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, as we have been on so many occasions, and I am sure we will be in the future. It is probably worth addressing some of the evident misunderstandings that have arisen around the purpose and the scope of this provision, and I hope to be able to persuade the Committee that this is a necessary and proportionate measure to protect the integrity of our immigration system.

The Government welcome the enhanced rights and protections for data subjects afforded by the GDPR and in negotiating, it was accepted by all parties that at times these rights needed to be qualified in the general public interest, whether that is to prevent and detect crime, safeguard legal professional privilege or journalists’ sources, or in this case maintain an effective system of immigration control. A number of articles of the GDPR therefore make express provision for such derogations, including article 23, which enables restrictions to be placed on certain rights of data subjects. Given the extension of data subjects’ rights under the GDPR, it is necessary that we include in the Bill an express targeted exemption in the immigration context. The exemption would apply to the processing of personal data by immigration officers and the Secretary of State for the purposes of maintaining effective immigration control or the detection and investigation of activities which would undermine the system of immigration control. It would also apply to other public authorities required or authorised to share information with the Secretary of State for either of those purposes.

It is important that it is clear to the Committee what paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 does not do. It emphatically does not set aside the whole of the GDPR for all processing of personal data for all immigration purposes. The opening words of paragraph 4 make it clear that only “the listed GDPR provisions” may be set aside. The listed GDPR provisions are those set out in paragraph 1 of Schedule 2. The provisions in question relate to various rights of data subjects as provided for in chapter 3 of the GDPR, such as the rights to information and to access to personal data, and to two of the data protection principles: those relating to fair and transparent processing and the purpose limitation. Except to that extent, all the data protection principles, including those relating to the lawfulness of processing, data minimisation, accuracy, storage limitation, and integrity and confidentiality will continue to apply. So too will all the obligations on data controllers and processors, all the safeguards around cross-border transfers and all the oversight and enforcement powers of the Information Commissioner. The latter is particularly relevant here as it is open to any data subject affected by the provisions in paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner, which the commissioner is then obliged to investigate.

Moreover, paragraph 4 does not give the Home Office carte blanche to invoke the permitted exceptions as a matter of routine. The Bill is clear: the exceptions may be applied only to the extent that the application of the rights of data subjects or the two relevant data protection principles,

“would be likely to prejudice … the maintenance of effective immigration control, or … the investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control”.

This is a significant and important qualification. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, asked why we have not listed exactly what we mean by,

“the maintenance of effective immigration control”.

The maintenance of that control does not merely encompass physical immigration controls at points of entry but, more generally, the arrangements made in connection with a person’s entry into and stay within the United Kingdom. A system of effective immigration control depends on our ability to control the entry and stay of those who wish to come to our country; to identify those who should not be admitted; and to pursue enforcement action against those who are liable to removal for failure to comply with restrictions and conditions on their stay, or otherwise in the public interest.

To use the example of the right conferred by article 15 of the GDPR, each subject access request would need to be considered on its own merits. We could not, for example, and would not want to limit the information given to visa applicants as to how their personal data will be processed as part of that application. Rather, the restrictions would bite only where there is a real likelihood of prejudice to immigration controls in disclosing the information concerned. It is equally important to dispel one other myth. Some of the briefing I have seen on this provision suggests that it creates new information-sharing gateways. This is simply not the case. As I have indicated, Schedule 2 sets out certain exceptions from the GDPR; it does not in and of itself create new powers to share data between data controllers. However, where personal data is shared between controllers for the limited immigration purposes specified in paragraph 4, it does mean that the data subject does not need to be notified if to do so would be prejudicial to the maintenance of effective immigration control.

It may assist the Committee if I explain the kind of information that it might be necessary to withhold from data subjects, and offer a couple of examples of the circumstances requested by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, where to do so would be necessary to maintain the effectiveness of our immigration controls. The classes of information which the Home Office may need to withhold include a description of the data held, our data sources, the purposes for which the data was held, and details of the recipients to whom the data has been disclosed. There will be circumstances where the disclosure to data subjects of such information could afford them the opportunity to circumvent our immigration controls. Two examples will, I hope, help to illustrate where the disclosure of such information may have precisely the adverse effect.

First, in the case of a suspected overstayer, if we had to disclose in response to a subject access request what we are doing to track their whereabouts with a view to effecting administrative removal, it is clearly possible that they might then be able to evade enforcement action. A second example relates to circumstances where we seek to establish the legitimacy of a particular claim, such as an extension of leave to remain in the UK, and suspect that the claimant has provided false information to support that claim. In such a case, we may contact third parties to evidence the claim. If we are then obliged to inform the claimant that we are accessing records held by third parties, they may abscond and evade detection. Such procedures may then become common knowledge and further undermine our ability to maintain effective controls.

Immigration is, naturally, a very sensitive subject area and a topic of huge importance to the public, to the economic well-being of this country and to the social cohesion of our society. Being able to effectively control immigration is, therefore, in the words of the GDPR,

“an important objective of general public interest”.

As I have indicated, having a new data protection regime which seeks to give broader rights to data subjects is to be welcomed. But in an area as sensitive as the immigration system, we need to make appropriate use of the limited exemptions available to us so that we can continue to maintain effective control of that system in the wider public interest.

I hope that I have been able to satisfy noble Lords that this provision is necessary and proportionate. It is not the wholesale carve-out of subject access rights that some have suggested but a targeted provision wholly in line with the discretion afforded to member states by the GDPR, and it is vital to maintaining the integrity of the immigration system.

Having given this provision a good airing, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, will feel happy to withdraw his amendment.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, there is a lot that demands careful reading and careful thought. I have three questions which I can raise now. First, in the examples which the Minister gave it struck us on these Benches that she was talking about things which are, in fact, criminal offences being dealt with under Part 3, which is the law enforcement part of the Bill.

Secondly, how is all this applied in practice? How does the controller know about the purposes? I am finding it quite difficult to envisage how this might work in real life. Thirdly, the Minister referred to the lawfulness of processing. I wonder whether this is not circular because paragraph 4, in disapplying listed provisions—by the way, I think those listed provisions include many which are very important indeed—makes it lawful, so I have a bit of a problem around that. Of course, I and others will carefully read what the Minister said, but I am sure we will want to return to this at the next stage.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas
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My Lords, I felt entirely comfortable with my noble friend’s examples, but they do not fit with what the Home Office has been doing. What it has done with the national pupil database is not to ask targeted questions when it has a problem with an individual but to collect the whole lot so that it has the ability to trawl, look at, match and use the whole of the dataset. That is a much more dangerous thing because of the consequences it has for the integrity of the data and for the way in which the lawfulness of gathering it is questioned. It is that sort of practice that troubles me. I had not read this clause in the narrow way in which my noble friend described it. I will obviously go away and read it again carefully, but if she would add a letter to her noble friend’s letter enlarging on why this is a narrow provision and giving us comfort, that would be worth while for me.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank my noble friend for that. In the meantime, I think my words should be reread, particularly my point about it not being a wholesale carve-out but quite a narrow exemption. I will write to noble Lords. I thought I might home in on one question that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about relying on this in the investigation, detection and prevention of crime. Of course, that is not always the correct and proportionate response to persons who are in the UK without lawful authority and may not be the correct remedy. I will write to noble Lords, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Clement-Jones Portrait Lord Clement-Jones
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My Lords, I thank the Minister. For a Home Office Minister she has a wonderful ability to create a sense of reassurance, which is quite dangerous. I am afraid that for all her well-chosen words, these Benches are not convinced. In particular, I noticed that she started off by saying, “This is only a very limited measure; it does not set aside everything”. But paragraph 1 sets aside nine particular aspects, all of which are pretty important. This provision is not a pussycat; it is very important.

I thank all those who spoke, including the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I thought the support from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for this amendment—I called him the right name this time—was rather more equivocal, and I hope he has not been persuaded by the noble Baroness’s siren song this evening. This is a classic example of the Home Office dusting off and taking off the shelf a provision which it has been dying to put on the statute book for years. The other rather telling point is that the noble Baroness said there is express provision for such derogation in the GDPR. But that is no reason to adopt it—just because it is possible, it is not necessarily desirable. But no, they say, let us adopt a nice derogation of this kind when it is actually not necessary.

As my noble friend pointed out, the Minister has not actually adduced any example which was not covered by existing exemptions, for instance, criminal offences. We will read with great care what the Minister has said, but I do not think that the “Why now?” question has really been answered this evening. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Data Protection Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Home Office

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 15th November 2017

(6 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Data Protection Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 66-IV(b) Amendment for Committee, supplementary to the fourth marshalled list (PDF, 52KB) - (15 Nov 2017)
Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, from these Benches we also have some concerns about the national security and defence exemption. My noble friends Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Paddick have their names to a clutch of amendments to Clauses 24 and 26, and to a replacement for Clause 25—these are Amendment 124C and so on. These amendments essentially probe what Clause 24 means and question whether the requirements for national security certificates are adequate.

My first question is: what processing is outside the scope of EU law, and so would fall within Part 2 and not within Parts 3 and 4, the parts of the Bill on law enforcement and the intelligence services? Many of these amendments were suggested to us by Privacy International and one or two by Big Brother Watch. Those who know about these things say that they do not know what certificates exist under the current regime, so they do not know what entities may benefit from Clauses 24 to 26. However, Privacy International says that in their current form certificates are timeless in nature, lack transparency, are near impossible to challenge and offer overly broad exemptions from data protection principles, and all the rights of the data subject.

My second question is: what are “defence purposes”? That phrase does not feature in the interpretation clause of the Bill. The Explanatory Notes, in referring to the 1998 Act, refer to the section about national security. Is defence not a national security matter? There are very broad exemptions in Clause 24 and Privacy International even says that the clause has the potential to undermine an adequacy decision. For us, we are not convinced that the clause does not undermine the data protection principles—fairness, transparency, and so on—and the remedies, such as notification to the commissioner and penalties.

I note that under Clause 25(2)(a), a certificate may identify data,

“by means of a general description”.

A certificate from a Minister is conclusive evidence that the exemption is, or was, required for a purpose of safeguarding national security, so is “general description” adequate in this context?

Amendment 124L proposes a new Clause 25 and is put forward against the background that national security certificates have not been subject to immediate, direct oversight. When parliamentary committees consider them, they are possibly tangential and post hoc. Crucially, certificates are open-ended in time. There may be an appeal but the proposed new clause would allow for an application to a judicial commissioner, who must consider the Minister’s request as to necessity and proportionality—words that I am sure we will use quite a bit in the next few hours—applying these to each and every provision from which exemption is sought. The Committee may spot that this could owe something to the Investigatory Powers Act.

Amendment 137P takes us forward to Part 3, the law enforcement part of the Bill. Clause 77(5) gives individuals the right to appeal against a national security certificate, but individuals will not know that they have been subject to such a national security certificate if the certificate itself takes away the specific rights which would require a controller or a processor to inform individuals that there was such a restriction in effect against them. The whole point of a right to access personal information and, on the basis of that, the right to appeal against a restriction, does not seem to us to work. The amendment provides for informing the data subject that he is a subject to a certificate.

Amendment 148C is an amendment to Part 4, which is the intelligence services part of the Bill. Clause 108 refers to an exemption being “required” for the purposes of national security. Our amendment would substitute “necessary”, which is a more objective test. I might require something to be done, but it might not be necessary. It is more subjective. Amendment 148D would—I note the irony here—require a certificate because Clause 109 seems not to require it, although the certificate itself would be conclusive. Finally, Amendment 148H is our response to the Constitution Committee, which recommended that the Government clarify the grounds of appeal for proceedings relating to ministerial certificates under Clause 109, other than judicial review. We have set out some provisions which I hope will enable the Minister to respond to the committee’s recommendation.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken to these amendments on the scope of the national security and defence exemptions in Parts 2 and 4 and the provisions in respect of national security certificates.

Amendments 124A, 124M and 124N relate to the exemption in Clause 24 for defence purposes. Amendments 124A and 124N seek to reinstate wording used in the Data Protection Act 1998 which used the term “combat effectiveness”. While it may have been appropriate for the 1998 Act to refer to “combat effectiveness”, the term no longer adequately captures the wide range of vital activities that the Armed Forces now undertake in support of the longer-term security of the British islands and their interests abroad and the central role of personal data, sometimes special categories of personal data, in those activities. I think that is what the noble Lord was requiring me to explain.

Such a limitation would not cover wider defence activities which defence staff are engaged in, for example, defence diplomacy, intelligence handling or sensitive administration activities. Indeed, the purpose of many of these activities is precisely to avoid traditional forms of combat. Yet without adequate provision in the Bill, each of the activities I have listed could be compromised or obstructed by a sufficiently determined data subject, putting the security, capability and effectiveness of British service personnel and the civilian staff who support them at risk.

Let me be absolutely clear at this stage: these provisions do not give carte blanche to defence controllers. Rights and obligations must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Only where a specific right or obligation is found to be incompatible with a specific processing activity being undertaken for defence purposes can that right or obligation be set aside. In every other circumstance, personal data will be processed in accordance with GDPR standards.

Amendment 124M probes the necessity of the applied GDPR’s article 9 exemption for defence purposes. Article 9 provides for a prohibition on processing of special categories of personal data. If we did not modify the application of article 9 for defence purposes, we would be hampering the ability of the Armed Forces to process certain personal data, for example, biometric data. This could have a detrimental impact on operations and other activities carried out by the Armed Forces.

I firmly believe that it is in the UK’s national interest to recognise that there may sometimes be a conflict between the individual’s right to have their personal data protected and the defence of the realm, and to make appropriate provision in the Bill to this end. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the publication of security certificates. National security certificates are public in nature, given that they may be subject to legal challenge. They are not secret and in the past they have been supplied if requested. A number are already published online and we will explore how we can make information about national security certificates issued under the Bill more accessible in future. She also asked about the timelessness of these certificates. They are general and prospective in nature, and arguably no purpose would be served by a requirement that they be subject to a time limitation. For example, in so far as a ministerial certificate allows the intelligence services to apply a “neither confirm nor deny” response to a subject access request, any certificate will inevitably require such a provision.

Amendments 124C, 124D, 124E, 124F, 124P and 148E seek to restrict the scope of the national security exemption provided for in Parts 2 and 4 of the Bill. I remind the Committee that Section 28 of the Data Protection Act 1998 contains a broad exemption from the provisions of that Act if the exemption is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security. Indeed, Section 28 provides for an exemption on such grounds from, among other things, all the data protection principles, all the rights of data subjects and all the enforcement provisions. Although we have adopted a more nuanced approach in the Bill, it none the less broadly replicates the provisions in the 1998 Act, which have stood the test of time. Crucially, under the Bill—as under the 1998 Act—the exception can be relied upon only when it is necessary to do so to protect national security; it is not a blanket exception.

It may assist the Committee if I provide a couple of examples, first in the context of Part 4, of why the exemption needs to be drawn as widely as it is. Clause 108 includes an exemption from Clauses 137 to 147 relating to information, assessment and enforcement notices issued by the Information Commissioner. It may be necessary for an intelligence service to apply this exemption in cases of extreme sensitivity or where the commissioner requested sensitive data but was unable to provide sufficient assurances that it would be held securely enough to protect the information.

In relation to the offence of unlawfully obtaining personal data, much intelligence work involves obtaining and then disclosing personal data without the consent of the controller. For example, if GCHQ intercepts personal data held on a foreign terrorist group’s computer, the data controller is the terrorist group. Without the national security exemption, the operation, although authorised by law, would be unlawful as the data controller has not consented. Similarly, reidentification of deidentified personal data may be a valuable source of intelligence if it can be reidentified. For example, an intelligence service may obtain from a computer a copy of a list of members of a terrorist group who are identified using code names, and from other sources the service believes that it can tie the code names to real identities.

The need for a wide-ranging exemption applies equally under Part 2 of the Bill. Again, a couple of examples will serve to illustrate this. Amendment 124C would mean that a controller processing data under the applied GDPR scheme could not be exempted from the first data protection principle as it relates to transparency. This principle goes hand in hand with the rights of data subjects. It cannot be right that a data subject should be made aware of a controller providing information to, say, the Security Service where there are national security concerns, for example because the individual is the subject of a covert investigation.

To take another example which touches on Amendment 124D, it is wholly appropriate to be able to limit the obligation on controllers under article 33 of the applied GDPR to disclose information to the Information Commissioner where the disclosure would be damaging to national security because, say, it would reveal the identity of a covert human intelligence source. As is the case under Part 4, this exemption would be applied so as to restrict the information provided to the commissioner, not to remove entirely the obligation to report appropriate details of the breach.

I hope that this has given the Committee a flavour of why the national security exemption has been framed in the way that it has. As I have indicated, the Bill’s provisions clearly derive from a similar provision in the existing Data Protection Act and are subject to the same important qualification: namely, that an exemption may be applied in a given case only where it is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said in her opening remarks, the amendments in this group relate to the data protection principles as they apply to law enforcement processing.

I will deal first with the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, before moving on to the others. Amendments 129G and 129H would add a requirement that processing under Part 3 be transparent as well as lawful and fair, thus mirroring the data protection principles set out in Parts 2 and 4 of the Bill. There is a very simple explanation for the difference of approach. The GDPR and the Council of Europe Convention 108, on which the provisions of Parts 2 and 4 are based, are designed for general processing. Therefore, it is wholly appropriate in that context that the processing of personal data should be transparent. Of course, that data protection principle, as with certain others, will apply subject to the application of the exceptions provided for in Parts 2 and 4, including where necessary to safeguard national security. At first glance, I accept that it might seem odd that Part 4 of the Bill, which relates to processing by the intelligence services, contains a requirement for transparency, but the provisions in Part 4 must be compliant with the modernised Convention 108. As I have said, that data protection principle will operate subject to the application of the exceptions provided for in that part.

In contrast, Part 3 of the Bill reflects the provisions of the law enforcement directive, which is designed to govern law enforcement processing; in this context, it is appropriate that the transparency requirement should not apply. A requirement that all such processing be transparent would, for example, undermine police investigations and operation capabilities. That is not to say that controllers under Part 3 will not process data transparently where they can, and Chapter 3 of this part imposes significant duties on controllers to provide information to data subjects.

Amendments 129J and 133ZJ are not about a popular Saturday night television programme, but about the significance of the word “strictly” in the context of Clause 33(5). Our approach here, and elsewhere, has been to copy out the language of the law enforcement directive wherever possible. Article 10 of the LED uses the phrase “strictly necessary”. The noble Baroness asked whether references in Part 3 to “necessary” and “strictly necessary” should be interpreted differently. That must be the case: “strictly necessary” is a higher threshold than “necessary” on its own.

Amendment 130A brings us back to the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which was the subject of some debate on day two of Committee. As the noble Baroness, Lady Chisholm, indicated in response to that debate, we are carefully considering the Delegated Powers Committee’s report and will respond before the next stage of the Bill.

Amendment 133ZB would replace the term “legitimate” in Clause 34—which establishes the second data protection principle—with the phrase “authorised by law”. I do not believe that there is any material difference between the two terms. Moreover, “legitimate” is used in both the GDPR and the LED, so for that reason we should retain the language used in those instruments to avoid creating legal uncertainty.

The noble Baroness asked about ECJ case law, post Brexit. The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill sets out how judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union are to be treated by domestic courts and tribunals after exit day. Clause 6 of that Bill draws a distinction between pre-exit and post-exit CJEU case law. Domestic courts and tribunals are not bound by post-exit case law but may have regard to it if they consider it appropriate. In contrast, pre-exit case law is binding on most domestic courts and tribunals in so far as it is relevant to questions pertaining to retained EU law. The Supreme Court and, in some circumstances, the High Court of Justiciary are, however, not bound. They may depart from pre-exit CJEU case law by reference to the same test that applies when they decide whether to depart from their own case law.

Amendment 133ZD seeks to strike out the reference to “where relevant” in Clause 36(3), which requires a controller to make a distinction between different categories of data subjects, such as suspects, convicted offenders and victims. There may well be a case where it simply would not be relevant for a controller to draw such a distinction. If a controller processes data in respect of only one of the categories of data subject, there is evidently no need for this provision.

Amendment 133ZE seeks to simplify the drafting of Clause 36(4). I do not believe the definitions in Clause 2 support the case for this amendment. Clause 2 defines processing, which includes disclosure, but it does not provide a general definition of disclosure, so it is preferable to retain the language in Clause 36(4).

Amendment 133ZK would introduce a requirement on controllers to publish their policy documents relating to sensitive processing. Such policy documents may contain operationally sensitive information that could well be damaging if published. Given this, scrutiny of such documents by the Information Commissioner, where necessary, provides an appropriate safeguard.

I turn to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and articulated by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. Amendment 133ZA would remove archiving from the list of conditions for processing sensitive data. Law enforcement agencies often archive data for public protection purposes. However, it is right that sufficient safeguards should be in place, particularly concerning sensitive data. The Bill achieves this by permitting archiving only where it is necessary.

The noble Lord asked in what circumstances archiving would be carried out for a purpose connected with law enforcement processing. It may be necessary where, for example, a law enforcement agency needs to review historical offences, such as allegations of child sexual exploitation. On this occasion, data have been processed for the purposes of reviewing the approach taken in child abuse cases investigated decades previously.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that example. I could have used scientific or historical research. Again, I am not entirely clear why these are law enforcement categories. The general ability to take a derogation relating to either of the items listed is well spelled out in the schedule, but I was trying to address the narrow formulation of that in a law enforcement category. The particular example is fine and it is possible that could be right, but I do not think it applies across science, historical or statistical research. Does it?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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It may do if it pertains to law enforcement purposes, but we may be dancing on the head of a very small pin. Perhaps I could come back to the noble Lord, but where it overlaps into the law enforcement sphere I would think it relevant. However, I will write to him to clarify and confirm my thoughts on that.

The noble Lord also asked about retention of data. I am not sure that was on this amendment, but he is right that it is not—

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Okay, I will carry on to Amendment 133ZC, which seeks to require that further processing for law enforcement purposes must have a statutory basis. This would prevent further processing in circumstances that are lawful but not provided in statute. It cannot be in the public interest to unduly restrict the use of data that could assist law enforcement to carry out its legitimate functions.

Amendment 133ZF would remove the law enforcement qualification from Clause 36(4). Its purpose appears to be to ensure that inaccurate data cannot be processed irrespective of whether it is for a law enforcement purpose. For processing other than for a law enforcement purpose, the controller must apply Part 2 of the Bill. Also with reference to Clause 36, Amendment 133ZG would insert a requirement that inaccurate data must be erased if it is not corrected. I understand exactly why this might be a fitting addition. However, it will not always be appropriate for law enforcement where data may form part of a criminal case. For instance, it may be important for evidential reasons for data to be kept unaltered. Inaccurate information could also be evidence of perjury or perverting the course of justice.

Amendment 133ZH would require the controller to have in place a document outlining their retention policy, which would have to be made available to the Information Commissioner on request. Clause 42 already provides safeguards, including a duty to inform the subject about the period for which the data will be stored or the criteria used to determine the period. Moreover, in the policing context, there are policy documents already published that cover this ground, such as the College of Policing manual on the management of police information.

Finally, I will deal briefly with the three government amendments in this group, Amendments 131, 139 and 140, for which the noble Lord has stated his support. They relate to Schedules 8, 9 and 10, which set out a number of conditions, at least one of which must be met, where a law enforcement agency processes sensitive personal data, or one of the intelligence services processes any personal data. They clarify that any processing is lawful for the purposes of the exercise of a function conferred on a person by a rule of law as well as by an enactment. This is consistent with the existing scheme under the Data Protection Act 1998.

In the case of the police, the processing of personal data is, in some instances, undertaken utilising common-law powers in pursuit of their function to prevent crime. One such example is the operation of the domestic violence disclosure scheme, or Clare’s law. Under that scheme, a police force may disclose information to a person about a previous violent and abusive offending behaviour of their partner when he or she was in a previous relationship. It is vital that the police can continue to protect people by disclosing sensitive personal information using their common-law powers.

Amendments 139 and 140 to Schedules 9 and 10 respectively ensure consistency of approach across Parts 3 and 4 of the Bill.

To go back to the point about retention of data and the noble Lord’s point about reviewing whether data are still required, appropriate action should follow such a review. The fifth data protection principle makes this clear. If data are no longer required they should be deleted. I am not entirely sure which amendment that refers to, but I hope some of the explanations I have given will ensure that noble Lords and the noble Baroness are content not to press their amendments.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, the five amendments in this group are all in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. I should say at the start that I am not convinced by Amendment 133ZL and I look forward to the response of the Government. I am not sure that it is proportionate in respect of law enforcement processing. I had concerns about it before the debate and I have heard nothing to change my mind.

Amendment 133ZM widens the scope of the provisions and I am content with that. I am interested to hear from the Government why the three words to be deleted are so important: perhaps they can convince me of the merits of having them in the Bill.

Amendment 133ZN is proportionate and I happy to support it. I do not support Amendment 133ZP and, again, I have heard nothing yet to convince me otherwise. I await a response from the Government. Amendment 133ZQ seems proportionate to me in respect of the data controller being able to record reasons to restrict provision of information to a data subject and the reasons for refusing requests.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for explaining her amendments in relation to the rights of data subjects. Having disappointed her so much in the last group of amendments, I have some very good news: the Government are content to agree to her Amendment 133ZQ. Perhaps it is right that I did not put my name to it, because she can claim full credit for the amendment, which corrects an erroneous cross-reference in Clause 46(6).

I turn to the other amendments in the group, which have a little more substance. Amendment 133ZL seeks to place a duty on controllers to inform individuals without undue delay that they are a data subject. The right of access conferred on data subjects by Clause 43 largely replicates the existing provision in Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, pointed out. Clause 42 already includes obligations on the controller to provide individuals with information in general terms and in specific cases to enable a data subject to access their rights. We consider that this is the right approach and one which reflects the terms of the LED. We welcome the enhanced rights for data subjects provided for in Part 3, but it is important that such rights are proportionate and that we take account of the resource implications for police forces and other competent authorities. Placing a duty on controllers proactively to notify individuals that they are data subjects would, we believe, place an unnecessary burden on competent authorities. In practice, many individuals will know that their personal data is being processed by a particular controller; where they are unsure they can submit a subject access request. It is important to note that under the new regime subject access requests will generally be free of charge.

Amendment 133ZM seeks to probe the need for the phrase “in specific cases” in Clause 42(2). This phrase, which appears in article 13(2) of the law enforcement directive, is simply designed to distinguish between the duty on a controller, under Clause 42(1), to provide certain general information to data subjects which might be discharged by posting the information on the controller’s website, and the separate duty, in Clause 42(2), to provide certain additional information directly to a data subject to enable them to exercise their rights. Moreover, the information which must be provided under Clause 42(2) may be person-specific and the drafting makes this clear.

Amendment 133ZN seeks to define the term “fundamental rights” as used in Clause 42(4) and elsewhere in this part. This is not the occasion to reopen the debate we had at the start of Committee on article 8 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Committee will be aware that it is not the Government’s intention to enshrine the charter into UK law. That being the case, and recognising that Part 3 of the Bill provides for a scheme for law enforcement processing which is enshrined in our domestic law, the reference to fundamental rights should be interpreted in accordance with UK law by the UK courts, rather than seeking to enshrine the charter.

In Amendment 133ZP to Clause 42(4)(a), the noble Baroness seeks clarification of what constitutes an “official inquiry”, as opposed to a “legal inquiry”. I start by pointing out that the law enforcement directive uses both terms, and we have followed our usual practice of copying the directive wherever possible. There are, of course, legally constituted inquiries established under the Inquiries Act 2005, but not all official inquiries are formally constituted under that Act. The use of both terms recognises that formally constituted inquiries may take different forms and be conducted by different entities. It is important to emphasise that a controller is subject to the limitations in the opening words of Clause 42(4) and cannot restrict the provision of information simply by virtue of the fact that the information pertains to an inquiry.

I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Baroness—she certainly looks happier than on the previous group of amendments—and that she will be content to withdraw her Amendment 133ZL. As I have indicated, I will be happy to endorse Amendment 133ZQ when she comes to move it formally.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, these amendments return us to the issue of automated decision-making, which we debated on Monday, albeit principally in the context of Part 2.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has indicated that the purpose of Amendment 134A is to probe why Clause 48(1)(b) is required. Clauses 47 and 48 should be read together. Clause 47 essentially operates to prohibit the controller making a significant decision based solely on automated processing, unless such a decision is required or authorised by law. Where automated decision-making is authorised or required by law, Clause 48 permits the controller to make a qualifying significant decision, subject to the specified safeguards.

A significant decision based solely on automated processing which is not required or authorised by law is an unlawful decision and therefore null and void. That being the case, we should not seek to legitimise an unlawful decision by conferring a right on a data subject to request that such a decision be reconsidered. Should such a decision be made contrary to Clause 47(1), the proper way to deal with it is through enforcement action by the Information Commissioner, not through the provisions of Clause 48.

Amendments 135 and 144 seek to prevent any decision being taken on the basis of automated decision-making where the decision would engage the rights of the data subject under the Human Rights Act. As my noble friend Lord Ashton indicated on Monday when the Committee debated Amendment 75, which was framed in similar terms, such a restriction would arguably wholly negate the provisions in respect of automated decision-making as it would be possible to argue that any decision based on automated decision-making would, at the very least, engage the data subject’s right to respect for privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

At the same time, the unintended consequences of this could be very damaging. For example, any intelligence work by the intelligence services relating to an individual would almost certainly engage the right to respect for private life. The effect of the amendment on Part 4 would therefore be to prevent the intelligence services taking any further action based on automated processing, even if that further action was necessary, proportionate, authorised under the law and fully compliant with the Human Rights Act. Where a decision will have legal or similarly significant effects for a data subject, data controllers will be required to notify data subjects to ensure that they can seek the remaking of that decision with human intervention. We believe that this affords sufficient safeguards.

Turning to Amendment 135A, I can assure the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that automated processing does indeed include profiling. This is clear from the definition of profiling in Clause 31 which refers to,

“any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to an individual”.

Given that, I do not believe more is needed, but I confirm that there is no significance in omitting the word “profiling”. We did not include a reference to profiling as an example of automated decision-making on the grounds that it is just that, an example, and therefore an express reference to including profiling would add nothing.

Amendment 135B would require controllers to notify data subjects within 72 hours where a qualifying significant decision has been made based solely on automated processing. While it is appropriate elsewhere in the Bill to require controllers to report data breaches to the Information Commissioner, where feasible, within 72 hours, we consider that the existing requirement to notify data subjects of what is a lawful qualifying significant decision as soon as reasonably practicable establishes the need for prompt notification while recognising that there needs to be some flexibility to reflect the operational environment.

Amendment 136A seeks to require the Information Commissioner to appoint an independent person to oversee the operation of automated decision-making under Part 3. I am unpersuaded of the case for this amendment. The Information Commissioner is, of course, already an independent regulator with express statutory duties to, among other things, monitor and enforce the provisions in Part 3, so it is unclear to me why the commissioner should be obliged to, in effect, subcontract her functions in so far as they relate to automated decision-making. Such processing is subject to the commissioner’s oversight functions as much as any other processing, so I do not see why we need to single it out for special treatment. If the argument is that automated processing can have a more acute impact on data subjects than any other forms of processing, then it is open to the commissioner to reflect this in how she undertakes her regulatory functions and to monitor compliance with Clauses 47 and 48 more closely than other aspects of Part 3, but this should be left to the good judgment of the commissioner rather than adding a new layer of regulation.

The noble Baroness asked whether it is 21 days from receipt of notification or another time. Clause 48(2)(b) makes it clear that it is 21 days from receipt.

I have some sympathy for Amendment 137, which requires controllers subject to Part 3, on request, to provide data subjects with the reasons behind the processing of their personal data. I agree that data subjects should, in general, have the right to information about decision-making which affects them, whether or not that decision-making derives from automated processing. However, this is not straightforward. For example, as with the rights to information under Clauses 42 and 43, this cannot be an absolute right otherwise we risk compromising ongoing criminal investigations. If the noble Baroness will agree not to move Amendment 137, I undertake to consider the matter further ahead of Report.

Amendments 142C and 143B in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, seek to confer a new duty on controllers to inform data subjects of their right to intervene in automated decision-making. I believe the Bill already effectively provides for this. Clause 95(3) already places a duty on a controller to notify a data subject that a decision about them based solely on automated processing has been made.

Amendments 145 and 146 seek to strike out the provisions in Part 4 that enable automated decision-making in relation to the consideration of contracts. The briefing issued by Liberty suggested that there was no like provision under the GDPR, but recital 71 to the GDPR expressly refers to processing,

“necessary for the entering or performance of a contract between the data subject and a controller”,

as one example of automated processing which is allowed when authorised by law. Moreover, we envisage the intelligence services making use of this provision—for example, considering whether to enter into a contract may initially require a national security assessment whereby an individual’s name is run through a computer program to determine potential threats.

Finally, Amendment 146A would place a duty on the intelligence services to inform the Information Commissioner of the outcome of their consideration of a request by a data subject to review a decision based solely on automated processing. We are not persuaded that a routine notification of this kind is necessary. The Information Commissioner has a general function in relation to the monitoring and enforcement of Part 4 and in pursuance of that function can seek necessary information from the intelligence services, including in respect of automated processing.

I hope again that my detailed explanation in response to these amendments has satisfied noble Lords, and as I have indicated, I am ready to consider Amendment 137 further ahead of Report. I hope that on that note, the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I am grateful for the long response and for the Minister agreeing to consider Amendment 137. As regards oversight of automated processing, which is not quite where I would be coming to as something that was suggested to us, it would be fair to say that the commissioner has a resource issue covering all these developments. Maybe it is something that we will think about further in order to approach it from a different direction, perhaps by requiring some regular reporting about how the development of automated processing is controlled and affecting data subjects. I will consider that, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, this quite extensive group of amendments relates to the obligations on controllers and processors and the transfer of personal data to third countries. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, explained, Amendment 137B seeks to probe the necessity for the words “where applicable” in Clause 59(2)(g), which places a duty on a controller to record details of the use of profiling in the course of processing. This wording is transposed directly from Article 24 of the LED—and. to be clear, we are not excluding types of profiling from being recorded. Rather, the clause provides that all profiling is recorded where profiling has taken place. The wording acknowledges that some processing may not involve profiling.

Amendment 137C seeks to add a definition of the word “nature” as used in Clause 62(4). References to the,

“nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing”,

are found throughout the LED and we have faithfully transposed this. We accept that the nature of the processing does include the aspects set out in the noble Baroness’s amendment, but we do not believe it necessary to set that out on the face of the Bill, and there is a danger that doing so in these terms could unwittingly narrow the scope of this provision. I might add that the Information Commissioner’s Office already publishes guidance on conducting privacy impact assessments and will be issuing further guidance on issues related to the Bill in due course.

Amendment 137D to Clause 63 would confer on the Information Commissioner a power to make regulations specifying further circumstances in which a controller must consult the commissioner before undertaking processing activities. Currently the requirement is for controllers to consult the commissioner when a data protection impact assessment indicates that processing would pose a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects. Clause 63 reflects the provisions in Article 28 of the LED and sets an appropriate threshold for mandatory consultation with the Information Commissioner. This is not to preclude consultation in other cases, but I am unpersuaded that we should go down the rather unusual road of conferring regulation-making powers on the commissioner. Instead, we should leave this to the co-operative relationship we expect to see between the commissioner and controllers and, if appropriate, to any guidance issued by the commissioner.

Amendment 137E seeks to specify the content of the written advice which the Information Commissioner must provide to a controller in the event that she considers that a proposed processing operation would contravene the provisions of Part 3. I do not disagree with the point that the amendment is seeking to make—indeed, it echoes some of what is said at paragraph 209 of the Explanatory Notes—but we believe that we can sensibly leave it to the good judgment of the commissioner to determine on a case-by-case basis what needs to be covered in her advice.

Amendment 137F would expressly require controllers to account for the cost of implementation when putting in place appropriate organisational and technical measures to keep data safe. I entirely agree with the spirit of this amendment; there needs to be a proportionate approach to data protection. However, I refer the noble Baroness to Clause 53(3), which already includes a provision to this effect. On Amendment 137G, we believe the use of the present tense is correct in Clause 66(3)(a) in that the implementation of the measures is ongoing and not set in the past.

Amendment 137H would require a controller to inform the commissioner when they have restricted the information available to data subjects in the event of a data breach. Clause 66(7) is one of four instances in Part 3 where a controller may restrict the rights of data subjects. I do not believe that there is a case for singling out this provision as one where a duty to report the exercise of the restriction should apply. If the commissioner wants information about the exercise of the power in Clause 66(7), she can ask for it.

Amendment 137J seeks to add to the role of data protection officers by requiring them to update the controller on relevant developments in the data protection standards of third countries. I do not deny that awareness of such standards by police forces and others is important for the purposes of the operation of the safeguards in Chapter 5 of Part 3. However, Clause 69 properly reflects the terms of the LED. It does not preclude data protection officers exercising other functions such as the one described in Amendment 137J.

Amendments 137K, 137L and 137M relate to Clause 71, which sets out the general principles for transfers of personal data to a third country or international organisation. The whole purpose of Chapter 5 of Part 3 is to provide safeguards where personal data is transferred across borders. Given that, I am not sure what Amendment 137K would add. Amendment 137L would narrow the circumstances in which onward transfers of personal data may take place with express authorisation from the originator of the data. In contrast, Amendment 137M, in seeking to remove Clause 71(5)(b), would expand those circumstances —which I am not sure is the noble Baroness’s intention. Subsection (5) is a direct transposition of article 35(2) of the LED, so we should remain faithful to its provisions. What constitutes the essential interests of a member state must be for the controller to determine in the circumstances of a particular case—but, here as elsewhere, they are open to challenge, including enforcement action by the commissioner if they were to abuse such provisions.

Amendment 137N would require a controller to pay due regard to any ICO guidance before coming to a decision under Clause 74(2), which relates to the transfer of data on the basis of special circumstances. The Bill already caters for this. Clause 119 places a duty on the commissioner to prepare a data-sharing code of practice and, under the general principles of public law, controllers will be required to consider the code—or for that matter any other guidance issued by the commissioner.

Finally, Amendment 137EA in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and articulated by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, seeks to set in statute the retention period for personal data derived from ANPR cameras. ANPR is an important tool used by the police and others for the prevention and detection of crime. I understand that the National Police Chiefs’ Council has recently changed its policy on the retention of ANPR records, reducing the retention period from two years to 12 months. The new policy requires all data not related to a specific case to be deleted after 12 months. This will be reflected in revised national ANPR standards. We know that the Information Commissioner had concerns about the retention of ANPR records and we welcome the decision by the NPCC in this regard.

Given this, I have no difficulty with the spirit of the noble Lord’s amendment, but the detail is too prescriptive and we are not persuaded that we should be writing into the Bill the retention period for one category of personal data processed by competent authorities. The amendment is unduly prescriptive as it takes no account of the fact that there will be operational circumstances where the data needs to be retained for longer than 12 months—in particular, where it is necessary to do so for investigative or evidential purposes.

More generally, I remind the noble Lord that the fifth data protection principle—the requirement that personal data be kept no longer than is necessary—will regulate the retention policies of controllers for all classes of personal data. In addition, Clause 37(2) requires controllers to undertake a periodic review of the need for the continued retention of data. Given these provisions, I am not persuaded that we should single out ANPR-related data for special treatment on the face of the Bill.

I apologise again for the extensive explanation of the amendments, and I hope that noble Lords will be happy not to press them.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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Certainly. I feel that I ought perhaps to apologise to the House for the speed at which we have been going; it has caused a bit of a flurry. I know that I have been quite telegraphic in speaking to the amendments. I have possibly been too telegraphic, but I will read the detail of the response, and beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

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Moved by
141: Clause 90, page 51, line 9, leave out “to 96” and insert “and 95”
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, government Amendments 141 and 142 to Clause 90 are technical in nature and simply ensure that the summary description of the rights conferred on data subjects by Chapter 3 of Part 4, as set out in subsection (1), fully itemises each of the relevant rights. I look forward to hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, about their amendments in this group and I will respond to them when winding up.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I cannot be quite so quick but I will be fairly quick. Amendment 142B concerns Clause 91(3), which states:

“The controller is not required … to give a data subject information that the data subject already has”.


When I read that, I wondered how the controller would know that the data subject had the information. Therefore, my alternative wording would refer to information which the,

“controller has previously provided to the data subject”.

There can therefore be no doubt about that.

Amendment 143A concerns Clause 92, which deals with a right of access within a time limit of a month of the relevant day, as that is defined, or a longer period specified in regulations. What is anticipated here? Why is there the possibility of an extension? This cannot, I believe, be dealt with on a case-by-case basis as that would be completely impracticable and, I think, improper. Is it to see whether experience shows that it is a struggle to provide information within a month, and therefore a time limit of more than a month would benefit the controller, which at the same time would be likely to disbenefit the data subject, given the importance of the information? I hope the Minister can explain why this slightly curious power for the Secretary of State is included in the Bill.

Amendment 146B concerns Clause 97, which deals with the right to object to processing. I might have misunderstood this but I believe that the controller is obliged to comply only if he needs to be informed of the location of data. I do not know whether I have that right, so Amendment 146B proposes the wording,

“if its location is known to the data subject”,

so that the amendment flows through in terms of language, if not in sense. The second limb of Clause 97(2), whereby the data subject is told that the controller needs to know this, suggests this. That enables me to make the point that this puts quite a heavy burden on the data subject.

Amendment 148A concerns Clause 101. I, of course, support the requirement that the controller should implement measures to minimise the risks to rights and freedoms. However, I question the term “minimise”. The Bill is generally demanding in regard to this protection, so to root the requirement in the detail of the Bill the amendment would add,

“in accordance with this Act”.

As regards the test of whether a personal data breach seriously interferes with rights, I suggest this is not as high a threshold as that required by the term “significantly” proposed in Amendment 148B.

Following the noble Lord’s co-piloting analogy, I now say, “Over and out”.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, who negated the need for me to speak to Amendment 142A, so I shall not do so.

I turn straight to Amendment 142B. This requires the controller to provide a data subject with specified information about the processing of their personal data unless the controller has previously provided the data subject with that information. This contrasts with the existing approach in Clause 91(3), which provides that the controller is not required to give the data subject information that the data subject already has. Although similar, the shift in emphasis of this amendment could undermine Clause 91(2) by requiring the data controller to provide information directly to the data subject rather than to generally provide it. The effect of this could be to place an undue burden on the controller by preventing them providing such information generally, such as by means of their website.

Clause 92 provides for an individual to obtain confirmation from a controller of whether the controller is processing personal data concerning them and, if so, to be provided with that data and information relating to it. It sets out how an individual would request such information and places certain restrictions and obligations on meeting such requests.

Amendment 142C would add to the information that must be provided to a data subject. I do not believe this amendment is necessary. Clause 91 already provides that the general information that must be provided by a controller is information about how to exercise rights under Chapter 3 of Part 4 and I am sure that the Information Commissioner will put out further information about data subjects’ rights under each of the schemes covered by the Bill.

The purpose of Amendment 142D is to remove the ability of the intelligence services to charge a fee for providing information in response to a request by a data subject in any circumstances. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, or the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy—I am not quite sure who it was; I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson—has contrasted the position in Part 4 with that in Parts 2 and 3 of the Bill, whereby a controller may charge a fee only where the subject access request is manifestly unfounded or excessive. The fact remains, however, that the modernised Convention 108, on which Part 4 is based, continues to allow for the charging of a reasonable fee for subject access requests and we are retaining the power to specify a maximum fee, which currently stands at £10.

It is entirely right that the intelligence services should be required to respond to subject access requests, but we believe it is appropriate to retain the ability to charge because we do not want the intelligence services to be exposed to vexatious or frivolous requests that could impose a significant burden upon Part 4 controllers. As I have said, the modernised Convention 108 allows for the charging of a fee and there is a power in Clause 92 not just to place a cap on the amount of the fee but to provide that, in specified cases, no fee may be charged. I think this is the right approach and we should therefore retain Clause 92(3) and (4).

Amendment 143A would require every subject access request under Clause 92 to be fulfilled within one month and would remove the Secretary of State’s ability to extend the applicable time period to up to three months for any cases. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has considered this Bill and made no comment on this regulation-making power. In our delegated powers memorandum we explained the need for this provision, and the equivalent power in Part 3 of the Bill, as follows:

“Meeting the default one month time limit for responding to subject access requests or to requests to rectify or erase personal data may, in some cases, prove to be challenging, particularly where the data controller holds a significant volume of data in relation to the data subject. A power to extend the applicable time period to up to three months will afford the flexibility to take into account the operational experience of police forces, the CPS, prisons and others in responding to requests from data subjects under the new regime”.


I hope the noble Baroness would agree that this is a prudent regulation-making power which affords us limited flexibility to take into account the operational experience of the intelligence services in operating under the new scheme.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before the Minister moves on, I asked whether the power would be used on a case-by-case basis, which I thought was what she was saying, or as a result of overall experience—and then she went on to talk about overall experience. So is it the latter, extending to all cases in the light of experience gathered over a period?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Yes, that is the point I made.

One of the rights afforded by Part 4 is that a data subject can require a controller not to process their personal data if that processing is an unwarranted interference with their interests or rights. If such a request is received, the controller may require further information in order to comply with the request. This includes information so as to be satisfied of the identity of the requesting individual or information so that they can locate the data in question.

Amendment 146B would require the requesting individual to provide information to help the controller locate the data in question only if the individual themselves knows where the data is located. I think we can agree that it is very unlikely that a data subject would know the exact location of data processed by a controller. As such, this change could make it more difficult for a controller to locate the data in question, as the data subject could refuse to provide any information to aid in the locating of their data. This could make it impossible for the controller to comply with the request and would in turn deprive the data subject of having their request fulfilled.

Chapter 4 of Part 4 deals with the obligations of the controller and processor. Controllers must consider the impact of any proposed processing on the rights of data subjects and implement appropriate measures to ensure those rights. In particular, Clause 101(2)(b) requires that risks to the rights and freedoms of data subjects be minimised. Amendment 148A would require that those risks be also dealt with in accordance with the Bill. If I understand the purpose of this amendment correctly and the noble Baroness’s intention is that the broader requirements of Part 4 should apply to any new type of processing, I can concur with the sentiments behind this amendment. However, it is not necessary to state this requirement in Clause 101; all processing by the intelligence services must be in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Bill.

Finally, Clause 106 requires that the controller notify the Information Commissioner if the controller becomes aware of a serious personal breach of data for which it is responsible. A data breach is deemed serious if it seriously interferes with the rights and freedoms of a data subject. Amendment 148B seeks to alter the level at which a data breach must be notified to the commissioner by lowering the threshold from a serious interference with the rights and freedoms of a data subject to a significant interference. The threshold is set purposely at serious so that the focus and resources of the controller and commissioner are spent on breaches above a reasonable threshold. We also draw the noble Baroness’s attention to the draft modernised Convention 108, which uses the phrase “seriously interfere”.

I am mindful that some noble Lords in this Chamber will be utterly perplexed by the subject matter to which we have been referring, so I hope that, with those words, the noble Lord will be sufficiently reassured and will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara
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The answer to that question is that we are not happy with what the Minister said about the ability of the intelligence services, uniquely in this whole area, to charge a fee to discourage people from getting access to the rights which they certainly have under the Act. I sensed that the Minister understands that; perhaps it is a little unfair to say that, as most other noble Lords were not able to see her smile, gently, as she tried to put substance and seriousness into the argument she was using, which was clearly very thin indeed. To make the point, we are relying on a convention which has yet to be signed. That is the fig leaf under which we will be smuggling these ridiculous fees. I urge the Minister to take this back and think again, and I look forward to a further discussion with her if she feels that any more information could be provided.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
142: Clause 90, page 51, line 9, at end insert—
“( ) section 96 deals with the right to information about decision-making;”
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
143: Clause 92, page 53, line 18, at end insert—
“( ) A court may make an order under subsection (11) in relation to a joint controller whose responsibilities are determined in an arrangement under section 102 only if the controller is responsible for compliance with the obligation to which the order relates.”
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
147: Clause 97, page 56, line 14, at end insert—
“( ) A court may make an order under subsection (5) in relation to a joint controller whose responsibilities are determined in an arrangement under section 102 only if the controller is responsible for compliance with the obligation to which the order relates.”
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
148: Clause 98, page 56, line 38, at end insert—
“( ) A court may make an order under this section in relation to a joint controller whose responsibilities are determined in an arrangement under section 102 only if the controller is responsible for carrying out the rectification, erasure or restriction of processing that the court proposes to order.”
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
149: Schedule 11, page 174, line 18, leave out “is necessary”

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 13th December 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Data Protection Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 74-II Manuscript amendment for Report (PDF, 72KB) - (13 Dec 2017)
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara
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My Lords, we have Amendment 37 tabled in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Kennedy in this group. The focus of our amendment is to tease out from the Dispatch Box a sense of what is meant by “meaningful” in the context of the discussions we have already had about how organisations might disclose details of algorithms used in profiling and data-driven decision systems, to meet the obligation in the GDPR to provide meaningful information about what has been going on in that space. It will be difficult to do this because “meaningful” can involve many words and obligations and is, I think, a slightly slippery concept. It will probably exercise the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, in its imprecision—but do not blame us, mate; it is the GDPR, which we are not allowed to discuss. However, I think that the Minister can help us here by providing a bit more information.

We have suggested that a way of dealing with this would be to look at how the information is used and make it a requirement that it should,

“be sufficient to enable the data subject to assess whether the profiling will be beneficial or harmful to their interests”.

That may not be sufficiently strict legal language but, if it is an important distinction, it would help to get us to the point at which the Minister might say that she will bring back improved wording in an amendment at Third Reading.

The real issue which is not discussed here is the question of whether we can access the algorithms themselves. The problem, and the reason for the solution to that problem lying in terms of the test of how it works in practice, is that it is not sufficient just to have simple information about the actual mathematics of the algorithm because that in itself would not give us enough information. What we need, for those in a particular part of the population cohort, is knowledge of the consequences of being in one category or another and how that is weighed up by those carrying out the processing. This covers all the ways in which decisions are made on credit, on our purchases and how we are advertised to. It is happening now, so the sooner we can get the information, the better. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s comments when she comes to respond.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I start by thanking noble Lords for their amendments, which bring us back to the important issues around the use of automated processing in what is an increasingly digital world. I apologise if my smile was misleading, I was just very pleased to see the noble Baroness in her place; it did not indicate anything other than that.

The range in which automated processing is applied includes everything from suggested views on YouTube to quotes for home insurance and beyond. In considering these amendments it is important to bear in mind that automated decision-making can bring benefits to data subjects, so we should not view these provisions simply through the prism of threats to data subjects’ rights. The Government are conscious of the need to ensure that stringent provisions are in place to regulate appropriately decisions based solely on automated processing. We have included in the Bill the necessary safeguards such as the right to be informed of automated processing as soon as possible, along with the right to challenge an automated decision made by a data controller or processor. We have considered the amendments proposed by noble Lords and believe that Clauses 13, 43, 48, 94, 95, 111 and 189 provide sufficient safeguards to protect data subjects of all ages—adults as well as children.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I accept that people want to assert their rights. Of course I do. I also think that we had a very detailed debate in Committee. Points were raised about the broad-brush approach; the Government have responded, and I am happy to support their amendments.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, these amendments bring us back to the immigration exemption in paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 which, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said, was debated at some length in Committee. As this is Report, I am not going to repeat all the arguments I made in the earlier debate, not least because noble Lords will have seen my follow-up letter of 23 November, but it is important to reiterate a few key points about the nature of this provision, not least to allay the concerns that have been expressed by noble Lords.

Let me begin by restating the core objective underpinning this provision. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, specifically asked for further clarity on this point. The UK’s ability to maintain an effective system of immigration control and to enforce our immigration laws should not be threatened by the impact of the GDPR. It is therefore entirely appropriate to restrict, on a case-by-case basis, certain rights of a data subject in circumstances where giving effect to those rights would undermine that objective. That is the sole purpose and effect of this provision—nothing more, nothing less.

The GDPR recognises this by enabling member states to place restrictions on the rights of data subjects where it is necessary and proportionate to do so to safeguard,

“important objectives of general public interest”.

The maintenance of effective immigration control is one such objective. This is the basis for the provision in paragraph 4 of Schedule 2.

The noble Baroness referred to article 23 of the GDPR. It does not expressly allow restrictions for the purposes of immigration control. She asked whether the immigration restriction is legal. She pointed to Liberty’s claim that the exemption is unlawful. It is not the case.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, the Minister is reading from her brief, but I do not think I made any of the statements it anticipated I would make.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I have been badly advised somewhere. Shall I just get on with what I was going to say?

I made clear in Committee that the exemption is not a blanket provision applying to a whole class of data subjects. It is important to note that Schedule 2 does not create a basis for processing personal data. The exemptions in that schedule operate as a shield allowing data controllers to resist the exercise or application of the data subjects’ rights as set out in chapter III of the GDPR. It is the assertion or application of those rights that triggers the exemptions in Schedule 2. Given this, it is simply not the case that the Home Office, or any other data controller, can invoke the immigration exemption or, for that matter, any other exemption as a default response to subject access requests by a group of persons. Instead, an individual decision must be taken as to whether to apply the exemption in circumstances where a data subject’s rights are engaged.

Moreover, before a right can be restricted, the controller must be satisfied that there would be a likelihood of prejudice to the maintenance of effective immigration control or the investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control. Only if that test is satisfied will the controller be able to apply the restriction on the data subject’s rights. I should also stress that this restriction should be seen as a pause button and not something to be applied in perpetuity to the data subject. If circumstances change so that the test is no longer satisfied in a given case, then the restriction will have to be lifted.

Having said that, I recognise the concerns that were expressed in Committee about the breadth of the exemption, and government Amendments 43 and 44, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said, respond to those concerns. These amendments remove the right to rectification and the right to data portability from the list of data subjects’ rights that may be restricted. On further examination of the listed GDPR provisions in paragraph 1 of Schedule 2, we have concluded that the risk of any prejudicial impact on our ability to maintain effective immigration control that might arise from the exercise of the rights in articles 16 and 20 of the GDPR is likely to be low.

Having clarified both the purpose of this provision and the way it will operate, and having addressed the concerns about the extent of the exemption, I would ask the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to withdraw her amendment and support the government amendments.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am obviously disappointed by both those speeches. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, that immigration control should be effective and fair, which is precisely what I was driving at. He referred to balance; I quoted article 23(1), which requires necessity and proportionality.

I thank the Minister for her answers and for her response to Liberty. She talked about taking this “case by case”, but is that not how we deal with all our immigration control? We do not apply wholesale visa bans; we are not Trump’s poodle. Data requests are made on a case-by-case, individual basis, but you need to know what data is held in order to make the request.

The Minister referred to a “pause button”. I am afraid that does not, to me, have the air of reality or really offer any assurance in the real world.

Amendment 44 does not respond to our concerns. As I commented, you cannot exercise the right of rectification unless you know what is said about you. I feel we are hardly even talking the same language, although it gives me no pleasure to say that. I think I must seek to test the opinion of the House.

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Report: 3rd sitting Hansard: House of Lords
Wednesday 10th January 2018

(6 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Data Protection Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 74-III Third marshalled list for Report (PDF, 153KB) - (8 Jan 2018)
Moved by
118: After Clause 125, insert the following new Clause—
“Records of national security certificatesRecords of national security certificates
(1) A Minister of the Crown who issues a certificate under section 25, 77 or 109 must send a copy of the certificate to the Commissioner.(2) If the Commissioner receives a copy of a certificate under subsection (1), the Commissioner must publish a record of the certificate.(3) The record must contain—(a) the name of the Minister who issued the certificate,(b) the date on which the certificate was issued, and(c) subject to subsection (4), the text of the certificate.(4) The Commissioner must not publish the text, or a part of the text, of the certificate if—(a) the Minister determines that publishing the text or that part of the text—(i) would be against the interests of national security,(ii) would be contrary to the public interest, or(iii) might jeopardise the safety of any person, and(b) the Minister has notified the Commissioner of that determination.(5) The Commissioner must keep the record of the certificate available to the public while the certificate is in force.(6) If a Minister of the Crown revokes a certificate issued under section 25, 77 or 109, the Minister must notify the Commissioner.”
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, government Amendment 118 responds to an amendment tabled in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I said then that I recognised the concern that had been expressed about the lack of transparency as regards national security certificates and that I would consider what more could be done to address this.

Having reflected carefully on that debate, and on representations from the Information Commissioner, I am pleased to move Amendment 118 to address this issue. It inserts a new clause into Part 5 of the Bill which requires a Minister of the Crown who issues a certificate under Clauses 25, 77 or 109 to send a copy of the certificate to the Information Commissioner, who must publish a record of the certificate. We would normally expect the published record to be a copy of the certificate itself. As I indicated in Committee, a number of the existing certificates are already available online.

As an important safeguard under the new clause, the commissioner must not publish the text or part of the text of the certificate if the Minister determines, and has so advised the commissioner, that to do so would be against the interests of national security or contrary to the public interest, or might jeopardise the safety of any person. Where it was necessary to redact information in a particular certificate, there would still be a public record of the certificate as set out in subsection (3) of the new clause. While in practice we expect that most certificates will continue to be published in full with no need for such restrictions, as is currently the case, this provides an important safeguard where it is necessary for a certificate to include operationally sensitive information. The commissioner must keep the record of the certificate available to the public while the certificate is in force, and if a Minister of the Crown revokes a certificate the Minister must notify the commissioner.

In the Information Commissioner’s briefing to this House on the Bill, she stated that there should be a presumption in favour of placing national security certificates in the public domain where to do so would not damage national security. She also noted that adopting a provision requiring her to be notified when a certificate was issued would provide a further safeguard to help inspire public confidence in regulatory oversight. I agree with her.

We have listened to concerns, and trust that this amendment will be widely welcomed. Indeed, it is worth recording that the ICO’s latest briefing on the Bill said that the amendment was,

“very welcome as it should improve regulatory scrutiny and foster greater public trust and confidence in the use of national security certificate process”.

I beg to move.

Amendment 118A (to Amendment 118)

Tabled by