General Data Protection Regulation

Matt Hancock, Digital Minister On The New Data Protection Bill

It was back in 1998 that Parliament passed the Data Protection Act. Perhaps one of the Acts of Parliament that we are most familiar with (in name anyway), it has transformed almost every aspect of our lives. This of course has brought many advantages, making the world a smaller place and transforming the UK’s economy. But there have been some disadvantages too, such as the worried parents have that their children may be vulnerable.

Many of these disadvantages have occurred in recent years, as the digital world has moved on but the Data Protection Act has not. The Data Protection Act has served the UK and its citizens well for many years but now the government believes that it is the right time for a new bill to replace it that reflects both the changes in technology and society. As Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital States in his foreword to the proposal of the new bill:

“The  Data  Protection  Bill,  promised  in  our  manifesto  and  announced  in  the  Queen’s speech, will bring our data protection laws up to date. It will both support innovation by ensuring that scientists and businesses can continue to process data safely. It will ensure  that  we  can  remain  assured  that  our  data  is  safe  as  we  move  into  a  future digital world based on a system with more accountability, but less bureaucracy. The Bill includes tougher rules on consent, rights to access, rights to move and rights to delete data. Enforcement will be enhanced, and the Information Commissioner given the right powers to ensure consumers are appropriately safeguarded.”

The new Data Protection Bill also comes at a particularly apt time. Whilst recently, on 23 June, 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. However, this will not mean that the UK will be exempt from the new European Union General Data Protection Regulations. This is both because the UK will still be in the EU when GDPR becomes live on May 25 2018 and the law applies to any organization in the world who process the data of EU citizens, thus affecting thousands of UK businesses. Speaking about this, Matt Hancock in his statement writes:

“Bringing EU law into our domestic law will ensure that we help to prepare the UK for the  future  after  we  have  left  the  EU.  The  EU  General  Data  Protection  Regulation (GDPR)  and  the  Data  Protection  Law  Enforcement  Directive  (DPLED)  have  been developed to allow people to be sure they are in control of their personal information while continuing to allow businesses to develop innovative digital services without the chilling effect of over-regulation. Implementation will be done in a way that as far as possible  preserves  the  concepts  of  the  Data  Protection  Act  to  ensure  that  the transition  for  all  is  as  smooth  as  possible,  while  complying  with  the  GDPR  and DPLED in full.”

The full statement of intent was published by the government on 7 August 2017 and the Bill will go before parliament as soon as they return from their summer recess.

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