Feeds

UK weakens supervision of Data Protection Act

Bills could remove Info Commissioner's independence

The Power of One Infographic

In general, this block of guaranteed support for the government on any given parliamentary vote accounts for the fact that it is very rare for government to be defeated. Additionally, as most MPs want to become ministers, the Whips ensure that frequent “rocking the boat” usually ends that prospect. Sometimes, MPs who continually cause trouble could face threats of reselection if their party loyalty is continually called into question.

This explains why Parliament is a generally compliant body. There is no separation of powers as in the USA, where parliament can scrutinise the executive. This is because the executive has a significant block vote in the scrutinising chambers of Parliament, and the Whips (also part of the executive) dictate how MPs from the governing party vote.

So if there were to be a dispute about the Government’s processing of personal data, the only MPs likely to pick up the issue are the opposition ones – who have no power. As seen regularly with the last government, ministers plough on regardless of what is said in Parliamentary Committee reports (like the ones from the Joint Committee of Human Rights or the Home Affairs Select Committee on surveillance). The record shows that these reports are often ignored.

In other words, reducing the number of MPs also reduces the scrutiny of government by parliament. So if government wants its way with respect to the processing of personal data, then do not expect parliament to protect the individual from the overbearing state. If the Information Commissioner steps out of line, then there again there is a risk that his powers to intervene could be reduced or removed by Ministerial order. Again, do not expect the Government to lose that vote.

These bills can change the relationship between the individual and the state. Not only are we are “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” (to use the ICO’s popular phrase), we are also watching the government taking powers to remove the independence of the Information Commissioner and reduce the ability of parliament to protect that independence if the Information Commissioner were to act against government in order to protect privacy.

Whether the above effects are deliberate or inadvertent can be argued. What can’t be argued is that the Coalition Government is creating a very dangerous structure that cannot guarantee individual privacy. ®

This story originally appeared at HAWKTALK, the blog of Amberhawk Training Ltd.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.