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Firms urged to prepare for new data protection rules

Aug 09
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Firms urged to prepare for new data protection...

The UK government has announced plans to strengthen controls over the use of personal data across the country through the introduction of a new Data Protection Bill. The new rules look set to have a big impact on businesses.

As part of the planned new legislation, individuals will have more control over where their data is stored, who has access to it and when it must be destroyed (right to be forgotten). It means the present reliance on default opt-out or pre-selected 'tick boxes' to obtain consent for organisations to collect personal data will also become a thing of the past.

Strengthening UK data protection laws

According to the UK's minister of state for digital Matt Hancock: "Our measures are designed to support businesses in their use of data, and give consumers the confidence that their data is protected and [that] those who misuse it will be held to account.

"The new Data Protection Bill will give us one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws in the world. The Bill will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use, and prepare Britain for Brexit. We have some of the best data science in the world and this new law will help it to thrive."

Specific details of the Bill include the introduction of a new requirement for businesses to receive 'explicit' consent for the processing of sensitive personal data, as well as an expansion of the definition of 'personal data' to include IP addresses, internet cookies and DNA.

Parents and guardians will be required to provide consent before the data of children can be used for business purposes, while the process of withdrawal of consent for the use of personal information by companies will be made simpler for individuals of all ages. Individuals will also be able to ask that all of their data held by a business be erased.

Furthermore, the legislation aims to make it easier for people to find what specific information is held by companies about them, while the process of transferring data between service providers is to be streamlined for those who agree to this process.

Commitment to long-term data protection legislation

Responding to the government's announcement, head of privacy advisory at KPMG Mark Thompson said this latest statement of intent demonstrates the UK's ongoing commitment to "protecting the privacy of individuals' data".

However, he went on to argue there are now a number of key challenges that businesses across the country will face when gearing up for the implementation of new, more stringent data privacy laws. It means privacy will need to become a central tenet of core business strategies in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce Dr Adam Marshall said the Bill will complement the impending implementation of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect next year.

The introduction of the Data Protection Bill into UK law would pave the way for long-term compatibility between UK and European legislation on data protection, strengthening the ability of UK businesses to operate both during and beyond the complex disentanglement process of Brexit.

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Image: monsitj via iStock

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