Government sets out plan to overhaul data laws

Government sets out plan to overhaul data laws

Tougher fines for firms hounding people with nuisance calls and a clampdown on bureaucracy, red tape and pointless paperwork are part of reforms to transform the UK’s data laws announced by the government on Friday.

The government is publishing its response to a consultation which aims to harness the power of data to help British businesses trade abroad and improve people’s everyday lives.

It sets out how the Data Reform Bill announced in this year’s Queen’s Speech will strengthen the UK’s high data protection standards while reducing burdens on businesses to deliver around £1 billion in cost savings that they can use to grow their business.

The plans will modernise the Information Commissioner’s Office, the data regulator, so it can better help businesses comply with the law. It will also gain tougher powers to crack down on nuisance calls.

The government said the reforms will “fuel the responsible use of data for innovation by providing clearer definitions on how consent is obtained for research”.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

“Today is an important step in cementing post-Brexit Britain’s position as a science and tech superpower. Our new Data Reform Bill will make it easier for businesses and researchers to unlock the power of data to grow the economy and improve society, but retains our global gold standard for data protection.

Outside of the EU we can ensure people can control their personal data, while preventing businesses, researchers and civil society from being held back by a lack of clarity and cumbersome EU legislation.”

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, said:

“I share and support the ambition of these reforms.

I am pleased to see the government has taken our concerns about independence on board. Data protection law needs to give people confidence to share their information to use the products and services that power our economy and society. The proposed changes will ensure my office can continue to operate as a trusted, fair and impartial regulator, and enable us to be more flexible and target our action in response to the greatest harms.

We look forward to continuing to work constructively with the government as the proposals are progressed and will continue to monitor how these reforms are expressed in the Bill.”

Data-driven trade generated nearly three quarters of the UK’s total service exports and generated an estimated £234 billion for the economy in 2019.

Jamie Lennox

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