Last week’s announcement by the Government that it is looking to shake up the UK’s data reforms post-Brexit was met with mixed feedback, with many predicting the kind of chaos that ensued as a result of the implementation of GDPR.
Thankfully, on further scrutiny, this doom-mongering does not seem to be warranted, with signs that the reforms are based on common sense and could bring many more positives than negatives.
1. The reforms could improve public trust
Oliver Dowden’s opening remarks in the consultation document states that,
“the protection of people’s personal data must be at the heart of our new regime. Without public trust, we risk missing out on the benefits a society powered by responsible data use has to offer. And far from being a barrier to innovation or trade, we know that regulatory certainty and high data protection standards allow businesses and consumers to thrive. “
2. The reforms could eradicate pointless cookie pop-ups
We’ve all got used to the annoying pop-ups asking for permission to store our information but as they are mostly a tool to comply with EU data law, they are almost redundant post-Brexit. Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden told The Telegraph newspaper this week that following the new reforms, “high risk” sites would still need similar notices, but that many of them are “pointless”.
“There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box-ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible,” he said.
3. The UK is looking to adopt a more global approach regarding data to benefit trade
‘Data adequacy’ partnerships allow data to be shared internationally and prove both countries share the same protections. The official announcement on the reforms stated that they will be making these arrangements a priority in the hope that it will remove many of the unnecessary barriers to world trade currently linked to data transfer.
4. Simplified rules to encourage the use of data to benefit people’s lives.
Data use in ways that benefit people’s lives, such as healthcare, is to be championed in any reforms with simplified rules to encourage data use in new and innovative ways.
5. New reforms will consider the benefits of data
The regulators will be empowered to step beyond the traditional role of protecting data, to consider the benefits of data sharing for innovation and economic growth. The first sign is that the complaints from many businesses and individuals about the bureaucracy surrounding excessive regulation are being taken into consideration.
6. The one-size-fits-all approach will be abandoned
The Government have indicated that they realise the current data regime places “disproportionate burdens” on many organisations, including small businesses. A local hairdresser should not have the same data protection processes as a multimillion-pound tech firm, the consultation says. Data laws will allow businesses to comply in ways more appropriate to their circumstances.
7. Clarity not confusion
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) outlines six conditions under which organisations can process personal data. Four of those conditions are self-explanatory: contractual requirements, legal obligations, vital interests, and tasks carried out in the public interest, but consent and legitimate interest are confusing and open to misinterpretation. The data reform consultation week will seek to clarify the ambiguity around these two aspects of the use of data.
Speaking to a Parliamentary Committee, the man who is likely to become the U.K.’s next Information Commissioner, John Edwards said,
“If we can, in the administration of a law which at the moment looks very much like the UK GDPR, that gives great latitude for different regulatory approaches — if I can turn that dial just a couple of points that can make the difference of billions of pounds to the UK economy and thousands of jobs so we don’t need to be throwing out the statute book and starting again — there is plenty of scope to be making improvements under the current regime,” he told MPs. “Let alone when we start with a fresh sheet of paper if that’s what the government chooses to do.”
Read the full Data: A New Direction document here