§ [References are to [Bill 51] as first printed for the Commons).
§ 1 Clause 1, page 1, line 14, after ("information") insert ("or from that and other information in the possession of the data user").
§ 2 Page 2, line 4, after ("processed") insert ("by or on behalf of that person").
3 Page 2, line 8, at end insert—
(c) the data are in the form in which they have been or are intended to be processed as mentioned in paragraph (a) above or (though not for the time being in that form) in a form into which they have been converted after being so processed and with a view to being further so processed on a subsequent occasion.").
§ 4 Page 2, line 16. leave out from ("for") to end of line 17 and insert ("the processing as mentioned in that subsection of data held by them.").
§ 5 Page 2. line 27, at end insert ("; and where the identification of the individual who is the subject of personal data depends partly on the information constituting the data and partly on other information in the possession of the data user, the data shall not be regarded as disclosed or transferred unless the other information is also disclosed or transferred.").
§ Lord Elton
My Lords. with the leave of the House, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 5 en bloc.
These five amendments all modify the definitions of some of the basic terms of the Bill. In each case the basic concepts remain the same, but the amendments are designed to clarify points which might otherwise have given rise to ambiguity, and to stop up any potential loopholes. Amendments Nos. 1 and 5, the first and the last of the group. go together. Amendment No. 1 elaborates the Bill's definition of personal data as cast. Clause 1(3) defines personal data as information about a living individual who can be identified from the information. If it were left there, however, it would be possible for an unscrupulous user to evade the Bill's control by devising a personal code for all data subjects and using manual records as a key to translating the code into names.
Amendment No. 1, therefore, requires that all the information in a user's possession must be taken into account when deciding what is and what is not personal data. But where the information on the user's computer does not itself identify subjects and only that information is disclosed or transferred to someone else without the identifying key, the data are effectively anonymised and present no threat to any data subject. Amendment No. 5 recognises this and takes any disclosure or transfer made in these circumstances outside the Bill's scope.
1157 Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 define the crucial definition of a data user as a person who holds data. Without Amendment No. 2 a person could be a data user without ever having processed or without ever intending to process personal data. For instance, if he possessed a sheet of typescript which someone had previously fed into an optical character reader, he would be a data user by virtue of controlling the content and use of data which had been automatically processed. The amendment, therefore, ensures that only a person who both controls the contents and uses the data and is himself responsible for the processing of the data or having them processed on his behalf may be a data user.
The amendment's companion, Amendment No. 3, makes it clear that a person holds data only when they are in the form in which they have been, or are intended to be, processed. Thus, if the data user has on his computer the names and addresses of his employees but also happens, quite independently, to keep the same information on a conventional file, the effect of the amendment is that he does not hold the information on the conventional file so far as the Bill is concerned. The only exception is the case in which data are transferred from one medium to another for storage purposes with the intention of reconverting them to the original medium when they next need to be processed. This is a common practice in the computer world and it is important that the data should remain within the Bill's scope while they are being stored in this way.
Finally, Amendment No. 4 operates on the definition of a computer bureau. A computer bureau is defined in subsection (6) as cast as someone who processes data on behalf of other persons or who provides equipment for other persons to process data with. The effect of this, however, could be to make into a computer bureau a person who retained control over the contents and use of data but who rented out terminals to third parties who are allowed, for example, to process the data in the sense of extracting information from the data. The Lexis system is an example of such an arrangement, as is the system whereby banks allow their customers access to terminals to interrogate their accounts. I believe that you can now do this standing in the street. In such cases the person providing the services is not really operating as a bureau in the true sense since he actually controls the contents and use of the data whereas a bureau does not.
The amendment therefore makes the distinction between a data user who controls the content and use of the data and the operator of a computer bureau who does not, much clearer. I hope that my speech has had the same effect. I remember from our initial stages what a tangled thicket this matter of definition is. I think that the other place has actually made a few pathways through it a little clearer. I hope your Lordships will agree that they should stand in the Bill.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendments en bloc.—(Lord Elton.)
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for his comments. I have nothing additional to say.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, perhaps I may say a brief word. It strikes me that the other place has made a splendid job of improving the improvements that we made in practically all, and in particular these, amendments that we have just heard about. They really ought to be congratulated as being a first-class revising Chamber for this purpose.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I hear the last three words of the noble Lord's speech in the context of what it followed. It is nice to say friendly and grateful things about the other place and also trusting things. I am grateful to your Lordships.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.