April 18, 2023Impunity Surveillance Article 8 Human Rights Act Tech Marginalised and vulnerable groups Accountability and Access to Justice
Yesterday, the Scottish National Party (SNP) echoed RSI’s concerns about the Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill during a debate in the House of Commons.
RSI has briefed MPs on clauses 24-26 of the bill, which would create unnecessary and unaccountable ‘national security’ powers for the Home Secretary and the police to use the personal data of people in the UK -- potentially on a massive scale.
During the debates, Carol Monaghan – the SNP’s Shadow Spokesperson on Science, Innovation and Technology – echoed RSI’s critiques of the bill, arguing (at cols 79-82):
‘Several clauses of the Bill cause concern. We need more clarity on those that expand the powers of the Home Secretary and the police, and we will require much further discussion on them in Committee. Given what has been revealed over the past few months about the behaviour of some members of the Metropolitan police, there are clauses in the Bill that should cause us concern. A national security certificate that would give the police immunity when they commit crimes by using personal data illegally would cause quite a headache for many of us. The Government have not tried to explain why they think that police should be allowed to operate in the darkness, which they must now rectify if they are to improve public trust.
'The Bill will also expand what counts as an “intelligence service” for the purposes of data protection law, again at the Home Secretary’s discretion. The Government argue that this would create a “simplified” legal framework, but, in reality, it will hand massive amounts of people’s personal information to the police. This could include the private communications as well as information about an individual’s health, political belief, religious belief or sex life.
'The new “designation notice” regime would not be reviewable by the courts, so Parliament might never find out how and when the powers have been used, given that there is no duty to report to Parliament. The Home Secretary is responsible for both approving and reviewing designation notices, and only a person who is “directly affected” by a such a notice will be able to challenge it, yet the Home Secretary would have the power to keep the notice secret, meaning that even those affected would not know it and therefore could not possibly challenge it.’
For more information, see RSI’s briefing here, and the House of Commons debates here.
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