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Government to strengthen UK data protection law

8 August 2017

Government to strengthen UK data protection lawThe Government has announced a new Data Protection Bill that will bring the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law.

Under the plans, individuals will have more control over their data including the right to ask for it to be deleted; research shows that more than 80% of people feel they do not have complete control over their data online.

It means that default opt-out or pre-selected tick boxes giving consent for organisations to collect personal data will become a thing of the past.

The Data Protection Bill will also:

  • Make it simpler for people to withdraw consent for the use of their data;
  • Allow people to ask for their personal data to be erased;
  • Make it easier and free for individuals to require an organisation to disclose the personal data it holds on them;
  • Expand the definition of "personal data" to include IP addresses, internet cookies and DNA.

The Government says businesses will be supported to ensure they manage and secure data properly. However, the Information Commissioner's Office ( ICO) will also be given more power to defend consumer interests and issue higher fines.

Business groups have warned that the new measures are likely to put additional pressure on UK small firms.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "While consumers need assurance from business that any personal data held will not be misused, businesses too need a helping hand from Government as these changes come into effect, particularly those at the smaller end of the scale. This is a complex set of changes, so firms must be helped to get them right - and no small or medium-sized business working hard to adapt to the new regime should be hauled over the coals for unintentional mistakes in the early days."

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "For almost all smaller firms, the scope of the changes have not even registered on their radar. They simply aren't aware of what they will need to do, which creates a real risk of companies inadvertently facing fines. As rules come into force in May 2018, we need to see a commitment from the Government and the ICO to provide support and guidance for the 5.5 million-strong small businesses community in good time."

Meanwhile, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is calling on the Government to form a working group to consider the impact on small businesses of the proposed legislation before it becomes law.

Ian Cass, chief executive of the Forum, said, "It appears that no-one in power has thought about the small and micro-businesses that make up 98% of the UK's 5.2 million businesses … There is the potential for this legislation to impact the way many of these businesses operate and market themselves, and even force them to close down."

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