back to article Lords slam 'untrammelled' data sharing powers in Digital Economy Bill

A House of Lords committee has slammed the "inappropriate" and "untrammelled" powers laid out in the Digital Economy Bill to share citizen data across the public sector. The Delegated Powers Committee report recommended that the government removes broad powers to share information with a range of "specified persons", which …

  1. Vimes

    If they're looking to extend access to the private sector when they provide services to government, then perhaps they can extend the responsibilities when it comes to those same activities too?

    Freedom of Information comes to mind for example: if government bodies have to comply with demands for information, then why not the private sector when acting on behalf of government bodies?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Dump commercial confidentiality excuses too, for companies with contracts earning them public money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        BT exploit every opportunity.

        "Dump commercial confidentiality excuses too, for companies with contracts earning them public money".

        BT is the prime example of this. States commercial confidentially, on BDUK contracts that have supposedly have no commercial basis, hence the reason BT wanting handouts. Then BT fail to advertise the Fibre product on completion (locally), because that wll mean clawbacks.

        Yet in the period up to completion, hundreds of "through the door" flyers to tie people into 18 month ADSL contracts.

    2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      > "Freedom of Information comes to mind for example: if government bodies have to comply with demands for information, then why not the private sector when acting on behalf of government bodies?"

      We do.

      1. Vimes

        @ZanzibarRastapopulous

        I don't think you do. At least nowhere near as much as the public sector. My own attempts for example to get information from NATS - despite it being a quasi-governmental body - have completely failed precisely because this did not appear to be the case.

        From the ICO's website:

        The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

        Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the Act does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.

        https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-freedom-of-information/what-is-the-foi-act

        1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

          Re: @ZanzibarRastapopulous

          > "I don't think you do. At least nowhere near as much as the public sector."

          I guess my point was that it just trickles down, they get the request and pass it on, it's functionally equivalent.

          1. Vimes

            Re: @ZanzibarRastapopulous

            Again: no it isn't. Anybody who has made FoI requests will tell you that, especially when the private sector organisation doesn't actually give that information to the department they report to (with regards to transport, it's not just NATS, but also National Rail that would fall into this category for example)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ZanzibarRastapopulous

              So, in conclusion, outsourcing is the thing to do for government departments having something to hide.

              Am I being paranoid for thinking that this may not entirely be by accident? If you would want to establish a dead certain move to outsourcing and associated cushy job, that's the sort of loophole you'd create, no?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ZanzibarRastapopulous

              Anybody who has made FoI requests

              Working for a public body as I do, the majority of FOI requests that we get are from companies asking "what sort of x do you have and who do you buy them from?" where x == {phones, computers, servers, printers, laptops, cabling, PABX, headsets, recruitment services, catering,......ad absurdiam, ad nauseam}.

              Sometimes I wish we had the ability to reject commercial digging FOI requests instead of having to waste time and money answering them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They already do, SERCO run one of our hospitals and have to answer FOIs on anything relating to it.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One of the advantages of having the HoL: it contains people who had real jobs before they became members and arrived with a clue. In fact with quite a lot of clues career politicians lack.

    1. Vimes

      Some of them still seem to manage to talk about things about which they have no understanding. Look at Floella (sorry, 'Baroness') Benjamin and her support for age verification on the internet for example (all 'for the children' of course).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "One of the advantages of having the HoL [...]"

      The second advantage being that they are usually past any political promotion ambitions and do not have to be re-elected. So they can vote on a reasoned argument rather than blindly toeing the party line.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it contains people who had real jobs before they became members

      That used to be the case before Blair started filling it ex-MPs that were past their sell by date. Which makes it imperative that the ex-polies be removed from the HoL.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "That used to be the case before Blair started filling it ex-MPs that were past their sell by date."

        It wasn't Blair who started that. It's been the case from way back.

        What I'd like to see would be ex officio membership for the heads of a few specific bodies such as the Royal Society, the various chartered professional institutes, Royal Colleges in the medical professions etc.

        1. Loud Speaker

          House of experts

          Originally, the HoL was a house of the people from the three major areas of expertise: miltary, property owners, church.

          Now life is more complex, we should adjust it back where it was: all institutions concerned with economic activity (find a better definition) like mentioned above, but including Musician's Union, IoD, claimants union, etc, - the most important characteristic being experience - should be entitled to choose a (one) lord by their favorite method. Said lord may be engaged on their favorite terms - eg "til death do us part", for one year, until arbitrarily dismissed, with heredity or whatever - the most important characteristic being diversity. (Granny always told you not to put all the eggs in one basket!)

          I am sure it is not beyond the whit of man to describe this better than I have, but you get the general idea.

          And yes, anyone with the slightest taint of politics should be jailed^H^H^H^H^H excluded.

  3. James 51 Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Looks like the hosue of lords is the real opposition for the Tories.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Good old hosue :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      well. those that turn up to vote and not just use it as a cash cow.

  4. Spacedinvader
    WTF?

    Yeah

    Mibby I'm missing something (my marbles) but should they not have raised their concerns before passing the fucking bill into law?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Yeah

      "Mibby I'm missing something"

      Yes. It's the Digital Economy Bill. It's not yet passed into law. Had it been it would have been an Act.

      This is the stage for them to raise their concerns. IoW they're doing just what you want them to do.

  5. Red Bren

    Multiple Disadvantages

    'That is intended to allow recipients to match the data against that already held to identify individuals "facing multiple disadvantages".'

    The biggest disadvantage most people face is dealing with a government bureaucracy hell-bent on blocking access to the help and benefits they are entitled to.

    1. Vimes

      Re: Multiple Disadvantages

      It seems that if all else fails they just flat out lie

      https://twitter.com/IamMrJ/status/822397067540635648

  6. Justicesays
    Devil

    Looks like a great commercial opportunity

    First they get every ISP in the country to collect every activity everyone does on-line.

    Then they sell that data to commercial companies for advertising.

    Sounds exactly like what Digital Economy would be about.

    1. moiety

      Re: Looks like a great commercial opportunity

      As long as we all get an even split of the money or an opt-out, then fair enough. Otherwise they can fuck off.

  7. teebie

    Yup, those powers need a damn good tramelling.

    (I assume this is where you pummel something with a tram?)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019