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House of Lords set to refer itself to data watchdog after peers’ phone numbers accidentally revealed

The House of Lords has been holding virtual sessions using Microsoft Teams

2 min read

The House of Lords is set to refer itself to the UK’s data watchdog after peers’ telephone numbers were accidentally revealed during a live broadcast.

The upper chamber was forced to pull its online coverage over the error, which saw contact details of its members read out when they entered and exited a virtual Parliament session run through Microsoft Teams software on Tuesday.

“Today’s virtual sitting will not be broadcast live,” the upper chamber said on Wednesday.

“This is due to technical and data compliance issues encountered during yesterday’s sitting.”

House of Lords authorities said they were working “hard and at speed to resolve these issues” in order to allow live broadcasts for Thursday’s session.

But The Independent reports that the upper chamber is now expected to refer itself to the Informaition Commissioner’s Office, which investigates data breaches, over the blunder.

Peers - whose virtual sessions were not initially broadcast - have also been told that they will switch from Microsoft Teams to Zoom, the platform used by the House of Commons, in the coming days “to a new platform to enable a high-quality broadcast output”.

A spokesman for the Lords said officials were now weighing up whether a referral to the ICO was necessary.

They added: “As a precaution the Clerk of the Parliaments, who is the data controller for the House of Lords Administration, took the decision to suspend live broadcasting of today’s proceedings until we are fully satisfied that these issues have been tested and resolved. We expect tomorrow’s sitting to be broadcast live again.”

Peers are currently able to use Microsoft Teams - the same platform they use for their daily work - to quiz ministers and respond to statements, although they are not able to take decisions on any legislation without being physically present in the chamber.

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