Rachel backs the local press after rejecting Data Protection Bill amendments

Rachel Maclean, the MP for Redditch County, has thrown her support behind the town’s press after voting against amendments to the Data Protection Bill which would have restricted press freedom here in the UK.

Last week, the Data Protection Bill was approved by MPs and is a significant piece of legislation that prepares Britain for the future as part of the digital age.

The UK is already a world leader in data and has played a key role in developing data security and protection standards across Europe. The Data Protection Bill will ensure the UK has one of the most robust and dynamic set of data laws in the world.

Redditch residents will be given more control over their data because of this Bill. The Bill sets out new rules for how individual personal information data, including names, addresses, emails and credit card information, are used and stored by third parties, including companies. Third parties and businesses who do not safeguard sensitive data in an appropriate manner could face hefty fines. 

Although Rachel voted in favour of the Bill, the town’s MP voted against amendments which called for the launch of the Leveson Inquiry Part 2 and an amendment that could have meant newspapers paying both sides legal bills, even in cases where a newspaper won the case. The amendments would have also restricted the press from carrying our high quality investigative journalism.

Rachel said: “Our town’s two fantastic newspapers do a brilliant job in holding me, the local councils, Government, public organisations and businesses to account. Although I do not always agree with what I read in the local press, I will always defend press freedom and I believe these proposed amendments would have undermined press freedoms to an unacceptable level.

“Implementing Section 40 would have undermined the financial viability of the local press who are already struggling to compete with online platforms for readership and advertising revenues. Hundreds of local newspapers have already gone under in recent years and these amendments would have accelerated this further.

“There would also be no benefit to launching Leveson Part 2 as it has been called. Doing so would have been costly and would also have ignored the substantial changes in press regulation that have taken place since the first Leveson Report was published. Recently the main regulator, IPSO, announced a compulsory, low cost arbitration scheme for its members which will make it easier for the public to resolve complains about press stories.  It will cost under £100 to pursue this arbitration route and compensation of up to £60,000 can be awarded.  This arbitration route can be in addition to any pursuit through the courts. 

“Of course, I have every sympathy for victims of past bad behaviour from the press, including the victims of phone hacking. Phone hacking is already illegal and Leveson isn’t going to change that. I believe opening up Leveson Part 2 would not heal old wounds, nor would it be the answer to any future wrongdoing.

“The Data Protection Bill will continue to ensure the UK is a world leader in data protection, whilst giving people more power over their lives online.”