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House of Commons Hansard
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13 December 2018
Volume 651
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4. What steps his Department is taking to improve the security of data for people and companies. [908174]

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The Government take the protection of data extremely seriously and want the UK to be the safest place to live and work online. The Data Protection Act 2018 makes our data protection framework fit for the digital age, with increased powers and funding for the Information Commissioner. Additionally, we have invested almost £2 billion in our national cyber-security strategy and opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre to protect the public and industry.

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Last month, I held my first ScamSmart event in my constituency, bringing together police, charities and banks to inform residents and discuss with them the dangers of online scamming and the importance of data protection. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that my constituents’ data is safe from these unscrupulous companies and that they are informed about how they can protect themselves?

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I congratulate my hon. Friend on holding that event, which is a very important thing to do. The new legislation strengthens people’s rights to access their data, to object to the way it is being processed, and to seek erasure of data where appropriate. For those that break the rules, we have increased the fines to 4% of global turnover—a dramatic increase. We have also substantially increased the resources available to the Information Commissioner to investigate scams like those that she seeks to eradicate.

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Some years ago, the addresses of my staff in this House were released due to a data breach. The danger to safety posed by these breaches demands that we address this issue, so will the Minister do so in the strongest terms? Will she also outline the funding that has been allocated to cyber-security and to the personal safety and security of people in this House?

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The hon. Gentleman will be reassured to know that had that breach occurred since the Data Protection Act was put into law, the Information Commissioner’s Office would have had substantially increased additional powers to take measures to address it. The Government are investing almost £2 billion in cyber-security, and the National Cyber Security Centre is there to help individuals, Members of Parliament and businesses.

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Documents published last week by the Select Committee show that Facebook was offering privileged access to user data to some commercial partners without those users’ knowledge, and was cutting off some other companies’ access to data altogether. Does the Minister feel that this should be a matter of investigation not only for the Information Commissioner but for the competition authorities?

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My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I congratulate him and his Committee on the work that they have done. His exposure of the information that Facebook engineers have reported the mass harvesting of data since 2014 is certainly worthy of continuing investigation.