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Liberal Democrat MP calls for Data Protection Act reform

Ian Grant

The Liberal Democrats called this week for reform of the Data Protection Act, saying that it was 10 years out of date.

Speaking at the party's conference, MP Nick Clegg said, "The Data Protection Act as it currently stands is 10 years out of date. We all know just how far technology has moved on in the past decade - it is essential that the law moves with it."

Clegg promised to boost the powers and resources of those responsible for holding the government and private companies to account.

He said most CCTV coverage is not subject to any regulation. "That is a disgrace. That is why we are calling for a wholesale reform of the Data Protection Act to reflect the world we live in."

Clegg quoted information commissioner, Richard Thomas, saying we are moving into a "surveillance society".

"So many of the government's obsessions with surveillance will do nothing to make us safer," he said. "ID cards do not stop terrorists you only need look at the Madrid bombings to know that. The 7/7 bombers could all have easily got ID cards had they so wished."

He accused the government of "shamelessly using the politics of fear" to promote the arbitrary expansion of the powers of the state.

"When my kids start using their library at school, I want to make sure the government does not use that as an excuse to take their fingerprints," he said.

"When our private data [is] repeatedly and inappropriately released into the public domain by companies I think they should pay a financial penalty. And when government proposes yet more legislation they must be forced to consider the impact it has on our privacy."


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