Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson

Digital Economy Bill

Written to via "random Lord" button on by one person.


Dear Cable Forum,
Since I spoke in the Lords about data protection, I have learnt more about the gaps in the regulations covering organisations such as Phorm and their webwise system. I agree that there are serious questions to be answered about information interception through ISPs and its implications for web users and website owners.
I am grateful to several forum members for contributing to my understanding of the next steps that can be taken in legislation.
Data protection and privacy are increasingly under threat in this country, partly because the internet is awash with people’s personal information. The general public has, like me, a pretty basic understanding of the technology, so it has been especially useful to have such a lively correspondence following the debate. Thank you for working hard to bring to light the issues involved in this case. While the Lords may not seem to you to be a natural place to debate questions of online data security, I assure you that the Liberal Democrats in both Houses will work hard to ensure the better regulation of data protection both off- and on-line.

Baroness Miller called attention to the volume of personal data collected and retained by governmental agencies and private companies, and the protection of personal data and privacy House of Lords debate Data Protection 12 June 2008

My Lords, this debate could not be more timely. Perhaps that is my good luck and the Government's bad luck. We and the public have just been shocked by yet another catastrophic example of data loss, where literally millions of the records that individuals have entrusted to the state have gone missing. The case in the Statement concerned state security, which is slightly different but potentially more serious. I am going to concentrate on the affect that these losses have on individuals, on their confidence in giving data to the state and on the state's responsibility for looking after that data properly.
At the moment, the UK probably leads the developed world in data loss. The point of the debate is to ask the Government what tools are in place to prevent that loss, whether they are using them and what more tools are needed. We on these Benches believe that the culture must change dramatically before losses of this magnitude stop occurring. As the Minister will know, because he agreed to it, we succeeded in getting a change to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill that gives the Information Commissioner more powers to deal with reckless and careless losses. It is a small step which needs to be followed by many others....
...I was talking with the chief executive of Phorm this week who told me that once something is stored you have lost control over it. Phorm has been the subject of an interesting article in the Economist recently which some of your Lordships may have read. It is a company on the cutting edge of what can protect the public. A bit of controversy surrounds its work because, with its client BT, it intercepted people's online business without BT customers knowing. But Phorm is certainly correct when it says that if consumers knew what was actually stored they would decide to opt for true anonymity online. This is what Phorm is trying to develop with major telecommunications clients on a global scale....
2008-06-18 - Liberal Democrats Press Release - Government must not sign up to staff blacklist
Author: Baroness Miller
Summary: Half a million government staff could be spared the risk of being entered onto a nationwide staff blacklist following a demand from the Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Baroness (Sue) Miller has written to Ed Miliband MP demanding a guarantee that the Civil Service will not sign up to the National Staff Dismissal Register. In her letter to Ed Miliband, Baroness Miller writes, "I am writing to you at this time to seek a guarantee that the Civil Service will not sign up to the National Staff Dismissal Register and place a further half million workers at risk of being incorrectly blacklisted." "Liberal Democrats are, of course, concerned about the effect that crime has on British businesses, but the creation of a database in which employers take the role of police, prosecutor, judge and jury is an incredibly worrying development and one to which I hope the Government will refuse to sign up to."
2008-04-28 - - House of Lords backs data loss law change
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: Losing personal data took a step closer to becoming a criminal offence after the House of Lords backed a change in the law. Peers supported an amendment to the criminal justice and immigration bill which would make it a criminal offence to carelessly release or lose personal data. The amendment, proposed by Liberal Democrat Lady Miller, would make it an offence for anyone to "intentionally or recklessly disclose information" or "repeatedly and negligently" allows information to be disclosed.