UK Government publishes its planned data protection reforms

UK Government & Data Protection

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It was in the Tory manifesto and the Queen’s Speech back in June, so it’s no surprise that we’re getting a Data Protection Bill.

We don’t have the actual Bill yet (looks like that is likely to have it’s initial reading in Parliament in September), but today (7th August) the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have published it’s intentions for the Bill.

The initial part of the reform paper suggests additional data protection regulation over and above the GDPR. It recognises that the GDPR will come into force next year anyway, but the paper outlines a set of responsibilities that are very GDPR-like but possibly enhanced versions. In summary, this is what the UK Government are saying the data protection reform will look like:

  • new rules around consent for processing personal data (which is a requirement of the GDPR)
  • improved data subject access requests, with no feee (as per the GDPR)
  • data portability rules (as per the GDPR) although with specific comment that this will allow individuals to move their own data from one service provider to another (which is a wider interpretation of the GDPR rules on data portability)
  • a right to be forgotten which is in the GDPR but with the additional aspects of it allowing for the deletion of data on social media channels posted during childhood
  • greater controls around automated processing (as per the GDPR)
  • breach notification requirements (as per the GDPR)
  • specific powers (as set out in the GDPR) for the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) including increased fines
  • Mandatory data protection officers (DPOs) – this is a requirement, under certain circumstances in the GDPR, but it’s not clear if the Bill will introduce a wider requirement. There’s also specific reference of the DPO having a role in law enforcement liaison
  • Recording of processing activities (as per GDPR)
  • Clarity on international transfers (as per GDPR)

It acknowledges the Bill will ensure compliance with the new GDPR as well as additional Directives on law enforcement and data, and automated processing.

The paper also sets out it’s plan for various derogations from EU laws, such as

  • The age of a child (for the purposes of collecting consent from a  child) will be defined as under 13 in the UK (the GDPR talks of under 16, but no less than 13).
  • Extensions of the right to access and process criminal conviction and offence data
  • Legitimate grounds for automated processing (e.g. credit checking)
  • Access and processing of data by law enforcement and for national security purposes

We’ll have to wait until we see the wording of the Bill to full understand the UK government’s plans and what aspects of the GDPR they’re enhancing.

This changes nothing regarding GDPR in terms of it’s “blanket” coverage of the EU data protection laws, however it has potential to introduce some enhancements above and beyond the GDPR. We’ll have to wait and see, in the meantime the reform paper sets the scene.

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