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Internet: Privacy

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent action the Government has taken to protect individuals’ right to privacy when using the internet. (206059)

The use of computerised personal information in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998. The Information Commissioner administers and enforces the Act independently of the Government. His office produces advice for individuals about their rights and guidance for organisations on how to comply with the Act when using personal information and websites. For example, in January 2007 the Information Commissioner’s Office published a Personal Information Toolkit for the general public; in June 2007 it produced guidance to data controllers about collecting personal information on the internet and in November 2007 it launched a new website to provide tips and advice on safe social networking and to help young people protect their personal information.

Government have commissioned an independent review to consider whether there should be any changes to the legislation governing data protection. The Data Sharing Review, being conducted by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, and Dr. Mark Walport, will publish its report in the first half of 2008. The impact of technology was one of the issues covered by the review’s consultation paper and we look forward to seeing the final report. More generally, the Government and the Information Commissioner’s Office keep legislation under review in light of ever-increasing technological changes in the field of data protection.