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Rebecca Wayman

Government: Data protection laws to be made better for our digital world

Today (September 14), the government has outlined vital protections for the country’s research, financial services, journalism and legal services as part of its plan to update data protection legislation for the digital era.

The Data Protection Bill is said to make all data protection laws fit for purpose in the modern world, in which a constantly increasing amount of data is being processed. It aims to allow people take control of this.

Matt Hancock, minister of stage for Digital, commented: “We are strengthening Britain’s data rules to make them fit for the digital age in which we live and that means giving people more control over their own data.

“There are circumstances where the processing of data is vital for our economy, our democracy and to protect us against illegality. Today, as we publish the Data Protection Bill, I am offering assurances to both the public and private sector that we are protecting this important work.”

Individual data rights are being strengthened, and it is the government’s view that existing lawful data processing should be allowed to be continued.

The Bill is said to assure specific UK businesses and organisations that the vital data processing they undertake can carry on uninterrupted, for either legal or public interests.

The government also plans to preserve existing tailored exemptions that have worked well in the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be carried over to the new law.

Such exemptions were negotiated from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, creating a data protection regime fit for Britain.

The product marketing manager for Mimecast, Mayur Pitamber, said: “Today, the new UK data protection bill is a step in the right direction, balancing individuals’ rights as well as supporting the legitimate interests of organisations in processing this data.

“With vast quantities of personal and sensitive data in the hands of organisations, individuals must be allowed to raise objections against any processing of personal or sensitive data held.

“However if organisations disclose in full and provide assurances of how they will use personal individual data, manage and protect that data, it will foster trust, openness and willingness with individuals.”

The Bill is said to include exemptions in the following areas: processing of personal data by journalists for freedom of expression; exposing wrongdoing; national bodies responsible in the fight against sport doping will continue to process data to catch drug cheats…

There are several more. Research has shown that more than 80 per cent of people feel they do not have complete control over their data online.

Under these plans, it is said that individuals will have control by having the right to be forgotten and ask for their personal information to be erased, meaning people can ask social media channels to do the same.

In addition, default opt-out or pre-selected ‘tick boxes’, which can be used to give consent for organisations to collect personal data, will become obsolete.

Businesses will be supported to ensure data is managed and secured properly. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given more power to defend consumer interests and give out higher fines, of up to £17m or four per cent of global turnover.

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