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Personal Data: Protection

Volume 569: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the light of the decision of the House of Lords in

R v Brown, 9th February 1996, they intend to introduce an amendment to Section 5 (2) (b) of the Data Protection Act 1984 so as to make it an offence to recall personal data from a database on to a computer screen and to read the information so displayed; and

Whether they consider that the decision of the House of Lords in R v Brown, 9th February 1996, will make it necessary to amend the Data Protection Act 1984 to comply with the obligations imposed by the European Community Directive on Data Protection, in accordance with the directive stated purpose of protecting an individual's right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data.

The judgment in R v Brown was narrow in scope. Although it makes clear that an individual employee cannot he prosecuted under the Data Protection Act for browsing computerised personal data, it does not deal with the Act's controls over subsequent improper use of such data.The Government will consider the implications of the judgment in developing proposals for implementing the EC Data Protection Directive—on which they hope shortly to issue a consultation document.