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The new UK data bill is a radical change for citizens and businesses

News, 08 August 2017
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LONDON: Individuals will enjoy increased power over their personal data, including a right to be forgotten, while companies will face dramatically bigger fines for non-compliance, the government announced.

Citizens will get the right to force companies and online traders to delete their personal data. They will also receive the right to ask social media companies to remove any information posted when they were children.

The bill, drafted under the Digital Minister, Matthew Hancock, will integrate the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation into domestic UK law.

Though the UK will implement GDPR in May 2018, the bill will continue the EU’s regulations after the country has completed its exit from the Union. It is likely to be introduced to parliament later this year, the FT reported.

While citizens will see new powers, organisations will have to adapt. The Information Commissioner’s Office will have the power to issue much tougher fines on non-compliant organisations: up to £17m, or 4% of global turnover.

“Our measures are designed to support businesses in their use of data, and give consumers the confidence that their data is protected and those who misuse it will be held to account,” Hancock told the Guardian.

The development is not, however, a threat to business, argued Tom Thackray, innovation director at the CBI, who told the FT that the legislation strikes the right balance “in improving standards of protection while still enabling businesses to explore new products and services.”

Crucial to the legislation, and similar to the EU law, the definition of personal data will be expanded to “information that is attributable to an individual and may help to identify them.”

The government said this was intended to reflect the vast technological growth of the last two decades, with personal data now including “IP addresses, internet cookies, and DNA.”

Like GDPR, which stipulates “privacy by design and default,” organisations will have to explicitly state what information they hold on an individual and how it will then be used. Companies will have to gain unambiguous consent from the customer in order to gather their data.

The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said of the new legislation “We are pleased the government recognises the importance of data protection, its central role in increasing trust and confidence in the digital economy and the benefits the enhanced protections will bring to the public.”

Data sourced from Gov.uk, Financial Times, The Guardian, BBC; additional content by WARC staff

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