HC Deb 22 January 1998 vol 304 c648W
Mr. Vaz

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals to introduce on-line red boxes for ministerial use; when he expects them to come into use; and what measures will be taken to ensure the security and confidentiality of information held on on-line red boxes. [23566]

Dr. David Clark

The prototype electronic red box, which I launched last week, shows the possibilities for Ministers to take advantage of modern Information Technology, and the potential for reducing the time and effort needed to fill and transport old-style boxes. The prototype demonstrates the principles, and will doubtless evolve; there is no reason why the final electronic red box should look much different from a normal laptop computer. Progress will depend on practical experience, but I expect Ministers who wish to use the operational version will be able to do so later this year.

Information in an electronic red box merits protection to the same Government standards as are applied to the networks the box may be connected to. I shall not describe the security measures in fine detail, for obvious reasons. However, I can say that they will include strong access control features, Government-approved encryption, and clear guidance for users. The measures will be such that should an electronic red box go astray for any reason, the information in it will remain suitably protected.