Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me about the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.
I support the principle of modernising data protection legislation and making it suitable for a rapidly changing technological landscape. Harnessing the power of data has the potential to revitalise public services, drive innovation for wider society, combat fraud and cybercrime, and develop new medicines. However, all of this potential can only be unlocked if public trust in data protection remains high, and I absolutely share the concerns that have been raised that this Bill does not go far enough when it comes to maintaining and extending important safeguards and protections concerning personal data.
That’s why I’m immensely frustrated that, rather than working with Labour to get this Bill right, the government instead at the last minute amended the legislation for their own purposes, changing the rules on direct marketing in elections and giving themselves extensive access to the bank accounts of benefit claimants, risking public trust in the safe and proper use of data. That’s why Labour attempted to amend the legislation to remove the government’s new clauses on election marketing, and why we pushed to have the Bill sent back to parliamentary committee so that the potential impact of the abrupt changes to access to banking data could be properly assessed. But unfortunately, the Conservatives used their majority in parliament to overrule us on both counts.
That the Tories can treat our data privacy – and our parliamentary democracy – in such a cavalier and irresponsible manner should be deeply troubling to all of us. That’s why at the general election this year I’ll be fighting for every vote we need to get a Labour government who treats these important issues with the seriousness they deserve.