With the recent expose of politicians expenses, which came from a person taking data from Parliment, MPs want this leak stopped, and have apparently approached the police to investigate.
But, according to the Times, the in house legal team for parliament have told MPs that there is not a criminal offense, but rather a breach of contract.
This is wise advice, following the debacle of Damien Green.
The reason is that Section 55 of the data protection act, which effectively criminalizes data “theft” [strictly speaking its not theft, as no property has been stolen], has a provision that allows for data to be leak for public benifit. Section 55(2) (a) of the DPA states that it is not an offence to if to take the data if in “the particular circumstances the obtaining, disclosing or procuring was justified as being in the public interest.” In addition to this the Data Protection Act was amended by Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, allowing leaking of information for journalistic purposes
Leaking of information can often have a benefit to a community, and thankfully UK law recognizes this, and the MPs are now realizing this.
As data about MPs is leaked, this once again reminds us why too much data about you, stored about the government, even if its technically legal (most expenses are “within the rules”) is not a good idea.
the person who duplicated the vast volume of MPs’ invoices and other material had committed a breach of contract but not a criminal offence.