The Stack Archive News Article

Digital Economy Bill to be debated again in the House of Lords

Thu 27 Apr 2017

Today, on 27th April 2017, the Digital Economy Bill’s amendments are to be looked at again

Today sees the return of the Digital Economy Bill to the House of Lords. Here, Commons amendments will be considered with members expected to debate factors including broadband download speeds, mobile phone billing and a code of practice for social media providers.

The bill has been debated since last year. The bill claims to provide a universal broadband service for the UK and to enable fast digital communication services for citizens and businesses. It will also “shape the digital world” to help children, consumers and businesses and enable delivery better public services, research and statistics. From a security angle the bill also claims to provide better controls on online pornography, protection from nuisance calls and digital intellectual property.

However, there has been criticism of the bill, particularly from privacy campaigners. They have said that the wording of the bill risks giving the government powers to widen the scope of data-sharing without proper accountability.

The main issue with this is the provision of the “single gateway” in the bill for public authorities to share personal information for a “specified objective”, which would be carried out by a “specified person”. But, the definition of “specified person” was not on the face of the bill, instead to be defined in regulations made by “the appropriate national authority”.

The Delegated Powers Committee in the Lords has also expressed concern over this matter. It echoed the sentiments of the privacy campaigners by claiming that ministers would have “almost untrammelled powers” to prescribe a list of public authorities as specified persons, and to prescribe “non-specific purposes for which the information may be disclosed and used, which need only meet the general conditions about improvement of public services”.

After the amendments have been considered further, the bill will then become an official act of law.


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