Draconian bill will give Scottish Ministers carte blanche over personal information

North East MSP Mike Rumbles has called on Scottish Ministers to think again over their support for Part 5 of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Bill, that will allow government to share personal data on individuals.

The Bill, that has been widely criticised in the media, will be put before the Scottish Parliament tomorrow and MSPs will vote on a Legislative Consent Memorandum which if it passes will give the UK Government the green light to proceed.


The Bill has already been held back by the House of Lords over concerns that the sharing of personal information could be misused by Ministers.


Mr Rumbles said: “The Scottish Liberal Democrats will be opposing the memorandum put before the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, on the grounds that it breaches any reasonable definition of data protection.


“There has been no satisfactory explanation by either the Scottish Government or the UK Government of the need for these draconian measures. They have utterly failed to address concerns raised by the Lords, the media and many charities.


“This Bill gives government Ministers complete power over personal information held on millions of individuals. This should ring alarm bells for anyone concerned with personal freedoms and right to privacy.


“I am sure that neither the public nor the Liberal Democrats will accept this Bill until those concerns are addressed and the proposals are amended to better protect personal information.”




Notes for editors:


Relevant sections of the Lords’ report:

  • “We are also deeply concerned about the power to prescribe as a “specified person” a person “providing services to a public authority” (see clause 30(3)(b))… We recommend that clause 30(3)(b) should be removed from the Bill, unless the Government can explain to the satisfaction of the House why it is needed and what safeguards are in place to prevent its misuse.” (Paragraphs 24 to 27 of Report).
  • “the power to prescribe a person who provides services to a public authority as a “specified person” should be removed from the Bill, unless the Government can provide a convincing explanation for its inclusion which, we note, is entirely absent from the memorandum.” (Paragraph 59 of Report).
  • “We do not consider it appropriate for Ministers to have the power to decide … which authorities should be entitled to disclose of receive information under this far reaching and broadly drafted gateway.”


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