New Laws Want to Ensure UK Citizens Get Extra Data Protection Rights After Brexit

By Tom Pritchard on at

Once the UK leaves the EU there's going to be a lot of legislative work to ensure everything goes smoothly, and one of the places that needs it the most is data protection. Well the government is doing something about it, and more than what was initially lauded during the general election and the Queen's speech in June.

The main idea being that the Data Protection Act will be replaced with something stricter and inline with data protection laws in the EU. The EU requires that all third-party countries (which Britain is set to become) need to have the same data protection laws if they want an unrestricted flow of data across the border.

The legislation will also give the Information Commissioner's Office the power to issue tougher fines for breach of data law - up to £17 million or four per cent of a company's global turnover. People will also get the right to force social media companies to delete their data when asked (which was described as a "right to be forgotten" by the minister for digital Matt Hancock), the option to delete childhood social media posts, and will ensure companies don't get unrestricted access to user data via "default tick boxes". Anyone with a social media profile will know the types of boxes they mean.

The definition of what constitutes personal data is also being expanded, with the inclusion of DNA, IP addresses, and browser cookies. In addition, the government is planning on cracking down on companies that are reckless with, or misuse, anonymous data in a way that leads to subjects being identified.

While a lot of this sounds great, Javier Ruiz, policy director at digital rights campaign organisation Open Rights Group, has expressed disappointment that the plans do not include some aspects of EU law - particularly those that allow privacy groups to lodge independent data protection complaints.

Citizens face increasingly complex data ecosystems. It is almost impossible for average person to be able to know which organisations hold their personal data. Enabling privacy groups to take independent action will ensure consumers’ rights are properly enforced.”

Minister for digital Matt Hancock is expected to reveal more information about the legislation later today, but the full set of proposed legislation will not be published until after parliament's summer recess. [The Guardian]

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