Home News “Data laws to be made fit for digital age” urges Government in launching Data Protection Bill

“Data laws to be made fit for digital age” urges Government in launching Data Protection Bill

by Brian Sims

The Government has outlined vital protections and flexibilities for the nation’s world-leading research, financial services, journalism and legal services as part of its plans to update data protection legislation for the modern era. The Data Protection Bill will make data protection laws fit for the digital age in which an ever-increasing amount of data is being processed and empower people to take control of their data.

With individual data rights being strengthened, it’s the Government’s view that, as far as possible, existing lawful data processing should be allowed to continue. That being the case, the new Bill assures specific UK businesses and organisations that the vital data processing they undertake for legal or public interest reasons can continue uninterrupted. It will preserve existing tailored exemptions that have worked well in the Data Protection Act 1998, duly carrying them over to the new law.

The Government successfully negotiated these exemptions from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation to create a proportionate data protection regime which is right for Britain.

Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, said: “We’re strengthening Britain’s data rules to make them fit for the digital age in which we live and that means giving people more control over their own data. There are circumstances where the processing of data is vital for our economy, for our democracy and, indeed, to protect us against illegality. As we publish the Data Protection Bill, I’m offering assurances to both the public and private sector that we’re protecting this important work.”

The Bill will include exemptions for data processing in the following areas:

*Processing of personal data by journalists for freedom of expression and to expose wrongdoing is to be safeguarded

*Scientific and historical research organisations such as museums and universities will be exempt from certain obligations which would impair their core functions

*National bodies responsible for the fight against doping in sport will continue to be able to process data to catch drug cheats

*In the financial services sector, the pricing of risk or data processing done on suspicion of terrorist financing or money laundering will be protected

*Where it’s justified, the Bill will allow the processing of sensitive and criminal conviction data without consent, including to allow employers to fulfil obligations of employment law

Matthew Hancock: Minister of State for Digital

Matthew Hancock: Minister of State for Digital

In its recent Statement of Intent, Government committed to updating and strengthening data protection laws through the Bill to provide everyone with the confidence that their data will be managed securely and safely. Research shows that more than 80% of people feel that they don’t have complete control over their data online.

Under the new plans, individuals will have more control over their data by having the ‘right to be forgotten’ and ask for their personal data to be erased. This will also mean that people can ask social media channels to delete information they posted in their childhood. The reliance on default opt-out or pre-selected ‘tick boxes’ (which are largely ignored) to give consent for organisations to collect personal data will also become a thing of the past.

Businesses will be supported to ensure they’re able to manage and secure data properly. In cases involving the most serious data breaches, the data protection regulator – the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – will be given more power to defend consumer interests and issue higher fines of up to £17 million or 4% of global turnover.

Data protection rules will also be made clearer for those who handle data, but those handlers will be made more accountable for the data they process with the priority on personal privacy rights. Those organisations carrying out high-risk data processing will be obliged to carry out impact assessments in order to understand the risks involved.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham observed: “The introduction of the Data Protection Bill is welcome as it will put in place one of the final pieces of much-needed data protection reform. Effective and modern data protection laws with robust safeguards are central when it comes to securing the public’s trust and confidence in the use of personal information within the digital economy, the delivery of public services and the fight against crime. I will be providing my own input as necessary during the legislative process.”

You may also like