The UK government have formally announced their intent to overhaul the country’s data protection laws in the form of the new Data Protection Bill. Amongst other things this will keep the UK in line with the European Union’s forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations that will come into place on May 25, 2018. The announcement was made by digital minister Matt Hancock.
“The new Data Protection Bill will give us one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws in the world,” says Digital Minister Matt Hancock, “it will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use, and prepare Britain for Brexit.”
The new law will update the current Data Protection Act which was first introduced in 1998 and aims to give citizens more control over their online data as well as giving the government more power to impose tough sanctions on those companies and organisations that do not comply with the rules. Under the new legislation, individuals across the UK and the rest of Europe will have more control over the data that organisations hold on them such as having the right to be forgotten as well as having the right to have their personal data erased. For example, citizens will be able to ask social media companies to delete information posted about themselves.
Reliance on default opt-out or pre-selected ‘tick boxes’ will become a thing of the past the government has said, as these are often ignored, and organisations will now have to have explicit consent to collect and use data. Under the the new Data protection Bill,. The Information Commissioner’s Office will have more powers and will be able to issue fines under the new European Union General Data Protection Regulations of up to £17 million or 4% of global turnover. This dwarfs their previous maximum fine available of just £500,0000.
Whilst some organisations have criticised the new Data Protection Bill and the new European Union General Data Protection Regulations, the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s premier business organization has warmly welcomed it.
“In the modern economy, data has huge value and its innovative use leads to better services and more productive businesses,” says Tom Thackray, CBI Innovation Director, “but firms know that this ability to innovate is dependent on customers having confidence that their information is well protected. This legislation strikes the right balance in improving standards of protection while still enabling businesses to explore new products and services.”
The government will be hoping that the new Data Protection Bill passes through parliament relatively quickly to ensure that it is ready for the introduction of GDPR on May 25, 2018.