Digital Economy Bill Factsheets

The Government have recently published their Digital Economy Bill.

Part 5 of the Bill will fundamentally change the way our data will be shared with government, public authorities, councils, charities and with private businesses such as gas and electricity companies.

Data sharing is a fact of life, yet almost every day we hear how data we have shared has been stolen, breached, lost or hacked. Government departments are not immune, between 2014/15 they had almost 9,000 data breaches.

We are now digital citizens by default, understanding how our data is used and for what purpose is absolutely necessary. From May 2018 under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) anyone wanting to use our personal information and data will have to tell us why and ask for our informed consent. This regulation will apply to every business, organisation and individual except, it seems the UK Government, because if Part 5 of the Bill becomes law:

  • We won’t have any control over data we share with government.
  • A Government minister will decide why our data is shared, when and how.
  • Officials from a broad range of bodies will be able to share our personal information without ever having to ask our permission or tell us who it was shared with and why.
  • Any data we provide to government; passport data, birth, death and marriage certificates, tax data, data relating to court appearances, benefits, student loans, parking tickets will be included. You name it, if they have it, you will no longer control it.

Part 5 of the Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

What we want to see changed

  1. Clearly defined technical, legal and privacy safeguards should be written onto the face of the Bill.
  2. The Codes of Practice must be legally binding documents which require any official sharing data to comply with them rather than just have regard to them.
  3. Individuals should be notified when their data is accessed, shared or retained in real time.  Consent for data to be accessed, shared or stored must be sought.
  4. An annual audit of all requests, actions and shares of personal data should be sent to every individual.
  5. Citizens should be able to amend their data if they know the data is inaccurate or has an error.
  6. Any data sharing must be necessary, proportionate and for a legitimate purpose.
  7. Data should be shared when vital not simply to improve wellbeing.
  8. Data requested, shared or stored must be the minimal amount necessary to fulfill the task.
  9. The bulk sharing or bulk storage of birth, death, marriage, civil partnership documents must not be permitted.
  10. Data must be encrypted when in storage or in transit.
  11. Data used for statistics and research should be subject to absolute anonymisation not de-identification.   This will protect citizens from being re-identified if data is combined.
  12. The public authorities entitled to data share under the Digital Economy Bill should be written on the face of the Bill.

What you can do

If you want to know what is about to happen to your data….to all of our data, then read our Digital Economy Bill Factsheets to understand Part 5 chapter by chapter and for more detail on the most controversial parts of the Bill; Public Service Delivery and Civil Registration Documents.

If you are worried, write to your MP and make your voice heard. You can find out who your MP is and how to contact them here. In the meantime please feel free to share these Factsheets with colleagues, family, friends and on social media.

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 Research, Briefings and Press

Digital Economy Bill: Part 5 – A few problems which need to be addressed

Oral Evidence to Parliament: Digital Economy Bill

Written Evidence to the Public Bill Committee on the Digital Economy Bill

Briefing on the Digital Economy Bill Part 5: Digital Government