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Lord Brain: I support the two previous speakers, having participated with them on the committee we have been discussing. I should like to make two slightly different comments. Personal data are often considered to be personnel files held in various different situations. Going back many years, when I was a management consultant, we used to hold on the personal file a photograph of the candidate, or someone like that. That was an image in addition to the text. If the data are to be held electronically, that image will be held electronically. It may have been scanned in incorrectly. On a photograph, if you worked efficiently, you noted the candidate's name and other details. Because scanning an image in does not necessarily have this data scanned off the back, it needs to be available to be checked.
The noble Lord, Lord Flowers made another point briefly, and we heard evidence about this in our committee. Data have to be stored from some source--a camera, a scanning device, or from where they have been typed in indeed--before they can be processed. I therefore support also the addition of the word "storage". I shall not cause further confusion by discussion the word "automatic".
The directive clearly says that image data refers to that. It seems to me that there is an intention by the directive to cover CCTV. This is an expanding world and there are CCTV cameras all over the place, whether they are used by government agencies, the police, the highways agencies or shops, for example. We know that they can now be used to match records. It is done by government agencies, but it could equally be done by the supermarket wishing to check whether it was the same person who came in once a week. Using a computer, you could look at the pictures of all the people who came in and match them. It seems that this should be included under the Bill, and the noble Lords have made a powerful case.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): If I may, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Would Members of the Committee allow me a general observation before I begin? I said at Second Reading, and we have affirmed it subsequently in correspondence with a number of noble Lords and indeed a number of organisation who have written to the Home Office and to officials, that we want to make the best fist we can of this Bill. In order to achieve that, I would gently ask that amendments are put down in a reasonable time. We had 60 on Friday, and although the Bill team is very expert, it is not enormous and to ask officials to work all night and all weekend does not produce the best outcome in terms of responses that we can provide. We have met with co-operation from everyone to whom we have spoken. I recognise that sometimes interest groups tend to bombard one late on Thursday or early on Friday morning, because they have not done the work that they are in this world to do; not in any event with promptness.
Dealing with these particular matters, it is a felicitous coincidence, as the noble and gallant Lord said, that the report of the committee came out just at the time that we were about to discuss these matters. One or two questions relate more to Amendment No. 13, which concerns personal records, and perhaps it is convenient if I deal with those when we come to that amendment.
I understand well the importance, and indeed the topicality, of CCTV systems. There is a great and proper concern about CCTV and the invasion of privacy which it offers, and the possible abuse of information privacy which it threatens.
A number of noble Lords spoke of CCTV. The noble and gallant Lord correctly pointed out that the committee concluded that further controls over such systems were required, and wondered whether the Bill might be the appropriate occasion. Quite plainly, therefore, and I am grateful for the explanation, the purpose of this first amendment is to ensure that digital images are caught by the Bill. I hope I can reassure the Committee that the amendment is unnecessary, because such images are already caught by the Bill and, indeed, Amendment No. 1 might in fact reduce the coverage of the Bill.
I agree with the proposition that the present Data Protection Act 1984, because of the limitations of definition within it relating to personal data and the requirement, as one noble Lord indicated, for processing to be undertaken by reference to an individual, is not as wide as our present scheme. We have deliberately wished to expand the definitions. "Processing", as I said a moment or two ago, covers storage. We believe that the new definitions are broad enough to catch not only sophisticated types of CCTV but much simpler equipment also, for example the sort of equipment which merely projects images of individuals passing a shop into the shop window, without recording those images.
The reason I suggest that the amendment would reduce the coverage of the Bill is that, if one limits the definition of data to information which is being processed as text or image, it is arguable whether that would cover the processing of binary codes by computer. We believe that it certainly would not cover some other forms of information processing such as radio waves.
I hope that explanation is of assistance, and I shall turn briefly to Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Astor. His Amendment No. 2 would provide that only information which was recorded as part of a relevant filing system, or with the intention that it should form part of such a system, for
falls within the definition of data. We believe that to be unnecessary. I have indicated the reason earlier. The definition of data incorporates all information processed by means of equipment operating automatically or recorded with the intention that it should be processed by means of such equipment. We believe that recording of information by camera or video surveillance already falls within the definition of data, and I hope those explanations prove helpful.
Viscount Astor: I should like to thank the Minister for his reply. But I wonder whether perhaps he could answer one question. I quite accept the answer he gave to my Amendment No. 2. Does that mean that he and the Data Protection Registrar are now in agreement, as it were, as to what constitutes manual records?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: That was my rather delphic coded reference to Amendment No. 13. The present position, as I believe I indicated at Second Reading, is that discussions are still continuing between officials in the Home Office and the Data Protection Registrar, and indeed others. The specific answer is, first, that it relates to Amendment No. 13, and, secondly, that no definitive conclusion has been arrived at.
Lord Craig of Radley: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanations and views, which I should like to study with care. The concept that "automatic" is the obverse of "manual" seems to be one point, with "holding" being absolutely identical to "storage". I take it at this stage that more thought is necessary, and on that basis I seek leave to withdraw my amendment.