Feeds

Lords defy Government by proposing criminalisation of data rogues

Disclose our info and you'll pay

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The House of Lords has proposed making it a criminal offence to disclose personal information intentionally or recklessly. The Lords passed an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, defeating the Government.

If it is to become law the amendment will need to be approved by MPs in the House of Commons. The Government opposed the amendment but was defeated by 134 votes to 130.

The amendment would make it a criminal offence to "intentionally or recklessly disclose information contained in personal data to another person, repeatedly and negligently allow information to be contained in personal data to be disclosed, or intentionally or recklessly fail to comply with [their] duties".

"Data controllers currently do not face anything like adequate sanctions if they intentionally or recklessly disclose information, or indeed are repeatedly negligent," said Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, introducing the amendment.

"Goodness knows, this is not exactly a new issue. The Government have had time to address it. In 2002 in another place [the House of Commons] my honourable friend Paul Burstow revealed that a total of 1,354 government-owned computers had gone missing over the previous five years, while much more recently, as noble Lords will be aware, vast amounts of data, whether from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or the health sector, have been lost," she said.

"The issue has been around for a long time, and not only in government sectors. The private sector, as we know, can be negligent, and it can do all sorts of things with data that it should not do. Both the public and private sectors need to be covered by further sanctions, which is the reason for our amendment," said Miller.

Until recently the bill contained a clause that would introduce jail sentences of up to two years for people who steal or sell personal data, but the Government has decided not to activate that clause of the law.

The new amendment would create a new offence, but Government minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath opposed the change, saying that the Government wanted to wait until it had reviewed past problems with data loss before legislating.

"The Government are involved in a number of reviews on these matters in the light of some of the well publicised incidents that have taken place," he said. "Just as noble Lords usually say that the legislation I bring forward is premature and has not had enough consideration, I have to say that that is our position at the moment."

"The Government recognise the genuine and legitimate concerns expressed by noble Lords both in this debate and in Committee, but a number of imminent reviews and reports will inform both the actions that the Government have to take as a Government and whether legislative changes should be made. That is why we think it would be premature to legislate at this point," he said.

Miller said that the public could not afford a wait. "Basically the public will have to continue with this lack of protection for at least another year or two, during which time, at the rate of the past 12 months, millions more pieces of data will have gone missing," she said.

The Conservative Party proposed a weaker amendment which would only apply to public bodies or workers on contract to the public sector, but Miller said that it was a false distinction. "Citizens do not mind who lost the data; it is irrelevant to them. What is important is that it is their data that have been sold, lost or left on rubbish heaps and it is they who are affected by it," she said.

The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has previously called for a law that would punish people or organisations that put other people's personal data at risk. In January the Parliamentary Justice Committee backed Thomas's calls for such a law.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.