Whilst much of the talk about the Queen’s Speech has been about what was left out thanks to Theresa May’s disastrous election result that left here with a wafer-thin parliamentary majority, there was good news on the data protection front.
In the Queen’s Speech, plans were confirmed for new data protection rules in the UK that will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its ‘world-class’ data protection regime. The proposed Data Protection Bill will follow closely the plans that were part of the proposed Conservative Party manifesto that was released prior to the election in June.
In the Queen’s Speech and Associated Background Briefing document which goes into detail about the government’s plans, the key priorities are said to be:
- Ensuring that data protection rules are suitable for the digital age. This is essential as many of the current data protection rules were devised before the internet was as predominant as it is today.
- Empowering individuals to have more control over their personal data
- Giving people the ‘right to be forgotten’. This will give people the right to have their data be deleted by an organisation when there there no legitimate reasons for the company to retain that data.
- Modernising the data protection and data processing procedures for law enforcement agencies
- Allowing the police and other appropriate authorities to “continue to exchange information quickly and easily with international partners” to fight terrorism and other serious crimes.
GDPR – The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations
The Queen’s Speech also, as expected, contained the announcement that it would implement the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Whilst the UK is set to leave the European Union, the new regulations will come into force in May 2018 whilst the UK is still a member. The fact is as well that UK businesses will have to be GDPR compliant if they store or process any data of an EU citizen. PwC’s global data protection legal services leader, Stewart Tom said that the Queen’s Speech had removed any doubt about the UK’s commitment to data protection:
“The Queen’s Speech has removed any doubt about the UK’s commitment to data protection. This is a significant move that will provide businesses with certainty on the UK’s intention to meet the obligations of the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).”
“For citizens, it confirms that their data protection rights will be fully enshrined in UK law after Brexit. The UK has long been a world leader in data protection – we have one of the strongest regulatory frameworks in the world and our system is highly respected. We can now build on these foundations to ensure the country continues to be a real destination for data-driven business post-Brexit.
The technology industry has also come out in support of the government’s plans. A spokesperson for techUK, the UK’s technology industry trade body said: “We support the government’s commitment to maintain the UK’s world-class protection of people’s personal data. This will include implementing the General Data Protection Regulation, the biggest transformation of data protection rules in a generation.”