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Privacy (Younger Committee Report)

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is satisfied that the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1969 and other legislation are adequate safeguards against the illicit use of electronic surveillance devices;(2) what action has been taken on recommendations 53(ii), (iii) and (iv) of the Younger committee report on privacy, Cmnd 5012, 1972;(3) if he is satisfied that the laws and regulations governing the importation of surveillance equipment are adequate; and whether any changes are contemplated.

The unlicensed use of radio for aural surveillance is prohibited and the importation and manufacture of radio surveillance equipment operating on frequencies between 88 and 108 MHz is controlled under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1949 and 1967. There is no statutory control over other kinds of surveillance device. I have no current plans for legislation on the lines recommended in paragraph 53 of the report of the Younger committee on privacy.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many recommendations of the Younger committee on privacy have so far been implemented.

The committee's 40 recommendations, made in 1972, were addressed to a wide variety of organisations, including the press, the broadcasting authorities, the banks, the universities, the medical profession and computer users. Of the recommendations addressed to the Government, some were implemented by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and by the reference to the English and Scottish Law Commissions of the law relating to breach of confidence. The need for control over private detectives is being studied as part of a review of the private security industry, and the data protection committee's proposals for legislation are also under consideration.