The UK government has recently introduced the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which seeks to replace the current Data Protection Act 2018 and modernise data protection laws to suit the UK’s needs. The new legislation aims to reduce costs and burdens for UK businesses and charities, cut the number of repetitive data collection pop-ups online, and remove barriers to international trade.
The proposed bill will maintain the UK’s high standards for data protection and privacy while moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The government claims that a new UK version of the GDPR will introduce a simple, clear, and business-friendly framework that will not be difficult or costly to implement.
The bill will also ensure that the UK’s new regime maintains data adequacy with the EU allowing for wider international confidence in the UK’s comprehensive data protection standards. It will also reduce the amount of paperwork organisations need to complete to demonstrate compliance, and support international trade, without creating extra costs for businesses, providing they are already compliant with the current data regulations.
One of the key features of the new bill is that it will provide organisations with greater confidence about when they can process personal data without consent. This is expected to increase public and business confidence in AI technologies by giving clarity to the circumstances when robust safeguards apply to automated decision-making.
In the modern, online world, data is seen as being fundamental to fuelling economic growth in all areas of society, from unlocking medical breakthroughs to helping people travel, manage their finances, and shop online. The government’s figures state that data-driven trade generated 85% of the UK’s total service exports and contributed an estimated £259 billion to the economy in 2021.
The government claims that the improved bill could unlock £4.7 billion in savings for the UK economy over the next 10 years, maintain the UK’s internationally renowned data protection standards, and enable businesses to continue to trade freely with global partners, including the EU.
Alongside these new changes, the bill is set to increase fines for nuisance calls and texts to be either up to 4% of global turnover or £17.5 million, whichever is greater. It also aims to reduce the number of consent pop-ups people see online, which allow websites to collect data about an individual’s visit.
In addition, the bill will also establish a framework for the use of trusted and secure digital verification services, which allow people to prove their identity digitally. The measures will allow customers to create certified digital identities that make it easier and quicker for people to prove things about themselves in the digital realm.
The bill is also set to strengthen the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) through the creation of a statutory board with a chair and chief executive, so it can remain a world-leading, independent data regulator and better support organisations to comply with data regulation.
The recent bill has notes that current data laws are unclear on how scientists can process personal data for research purposes, which, it is claimed, holds them back from completing vital research that can improve people’s lives.
The new bill has, therefore, updated the definition of scientific research to clarify that commercial organisations will also benefit from the same freedoms as academics to carry out innovative scientific research.
Overall, the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill has been widely praised as a much-needed update to UK data protection laws. Experts have lauded its aims to simplify and streamline regulations, reduce the burden on businesses and charities, and provide greater clarity and flexibility for organisations to comply with the new data laws. The UK government claims that it will strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in data protection and privacy and ensure that privacy and data protection are securely protected.
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