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UK government to introduce new Data Protection Bill

07 August 2017 (Edited 07 August 2017)

The speech delivered to both Houses of Parliament by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 21 June 2017 included this item:

“A new law will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its world-class regime protecting personal data, and proposals for a new digital charter will be brought forward to ensure that the United Kingdom is the safest place to be online. “

This is a reference to the Data Protection Bill which has recently been drafted under the direction of Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock MP. Minister Hancock's responsibilities include, among other things, "cyber security, data and internet governance." The new bill would replace the existing Data Protection Act of 1998.

Anticipating the exit of the UK from the EU in 2019, the intent of this bill is to align the UK's data protection laws with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation scheduled to go into effect in May 2018.

The new UK Data Protection Bill would:

  • Give UK individuals a universal "right to be forgotten" (which currently exists for search engines only)
  • Require social media platforms to delete any individual's personal data on request
  • Give the Information Commissioner's Office more power to defend consumers' interests
  • Institute higher fines for data breaches, up to 17M GBP or 4% of an organization's annual global revenues
  • Make it easier for individuals to withdraw consent for the use of their personal data
  • Allow parents and guardians to give (or withhold) consent for their children's data to be used
  • Require organizations to obtain explicit consent before processing sensitive personal data
  • Define personal data to include IP addresses, Internet cookies and DNA
  • Make re-identifying individuals from anonymized or pseudonymized data a criminal offense

This new Act will impact every company anywhere in the world that does business with citizens of the UK.

If that includes you, you need to figure out right now what changes you need to make to get into compliance by May 2018 - because at that point, and until the Brexit process is complete, the EU GDPR will be in effect for the UK, followed in 2019 or whenever by a nearly seamless transition to the new UK Data Protection Act.

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