UK Data Protection E-news - May 2010

12/05/2010
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  1. New UK government announces coalition agreement on civil liberties including the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act
  2. Coalition government establishes a Commission to evaluate human rights

1. New UK government announces coalition agreement on civil liberties including the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act

Yesterday was the first full day of the United Kingdom’s new government following last week’s general election and the end of the Labour government. The formal coalition agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, published yesterday, contains several points on the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act and related privacy issues. Below is the complete and unedited list of the points in the 10th section of the agreement, on civil liberties.

Civil liberties

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

  1. A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill. 
  2. The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database. 
  3. Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission. 
  4. The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency. 
  5. Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database. 
  6. The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury. 
  7. The restoration of rights to non-violent protest. 
  8. The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech. 
  9. Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation. 
  10. Further regulation of CCTV. 
  11. Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason. 
  12. A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

2. Coalition government establishes a Commission to evaluate human rights

The Coalition Government programme, published on 20 May, promises to ‘establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.’

The Conservative Party was planning to scrap the Human Rights Act, but the Liberal Democrats are defending it.

The Coalition government has now committed itself to introducing a Freedom Bill, which has been on the Liberal Democrat agenda for a long time. Speaking at the Information Governance, Risk and Compliance conference yesterday, Maurice Frankel, Director for the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said that changes to the FOI regime could include the prejudice test for an exemption to be changed to be in line with Scotland, which applies ‘substantial harm’ test to assessing the public interest. He also said that the government may abolish the Ministerial veto and remove the restriction to appeal against a Tribunal decision to the High Court only on points of law.

Previously, the Coalition government announced that they will scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register and the ContactPoint database, and extend the scope of the FOI Act (see PL&B’s UK Newsletter, May 2010).

The government’s programme can be seen at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/409088/pfg_coalition.pdf

For further details on the Privacy Laws & Business UK Newsletter, please click here.

Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2010 

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