Another letter to Jeremy Hunt MP, but this time a response too

Not on the subject of the British Standards Organisation and the Freedom of Information Act, but clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Jeremy Hunt,

I am concerned about the Coroners and Justice bill currently being
debated. I am an IT professional and have studied the Data Protection
Act as part of my education and professional development. Not being a
Coroner or a Judge I had little interest in this new bill. I was very
surprised to learn that clause 152 of this bill will rip apart and
remake the Data Protection Act. This seems to me to be a very
underhanded way of making law. If there is a need to change the DPA then
the government should attempt to do so in a separate act with a relevant
title.
Please vote to have clause 152 completely removed from the bill leaving
intact the data protection act. I will leave it to the coroners and
judges to comment on the usefulness of the remainder of the bill.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Bell

and he got back to me 3 hours later with this:

Dear Mr Bell,

Thank you very much for getting in touch about the proposals for new
data-sharing powers in the Coroners and Justice Bill.

I completely share your objections to this section of the Bill. These
proposals would have a truly dramatic impact, allowing Ministers to make
an ‘information sharing order’, meaning that a whole range of public
servants could access the public’s personal data. Data could be shared
between officials across Whitehall, with local authorities and even with
companies in the private sector, simply in order to meet a Government
policy objective.

This threatens to open the floodgates to a continuous, uncontrolled and
unchecked flow of personal data, and as is often the case with the
Government, any safeguards will only be put in place after the Bill has
already passed into law. This means that Parliament will be asked to
vote on proposals which contain no safeguards and no serious sanctions
for abuse of the new powers. This is simply unacceptable.

The Government has displayed its incompetence and complacency in
relation to data time and time again – it is no wonder public trust in
the ability of the Government to keep our personal details safe is at an
all-time low. Last year, HMRC lost the personal data of almost half the
population, leaving over 7 million families worried about the security
of their bank accounts. More recently, the details of thousands of
criminals, held on a memory stick, were lost by a government contractor.
Countless other cases of lost data have occurred, including the details
of thousands of driving test candidates, prospective military recruits
and over 5,000 prison service staff. Now, even the Prime Minister has
admitted that he “can’t promise that every single item of information
will always be safe.”

In this context, I find it extraordinary that the Government has slipped
these clauses into the Bill without any consultation or prior warning,
and certainly without the case for them being made. I assure you that my
Conservative colleagues and I will vigorously oppose this latest step
towards creating a database state by stealth.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. As always,
please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of any further
assistance.

Best wishes,

Jeremy

Jeremy Hunt
Member of Parliament
South West Surrey

so a pretty good response and a vote in the right direction. Now who wants to help get the scope of the Freedom of Information Act fixed, your MP is only a click away.

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