Data Protection and Digital Information Bill
The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is the only piece of legislation to be delayed as a result of Liz Truss’s appointment as Prime Minister. Due to have its second reading on Monday 5 September, this will now take place at a later as-yet unconfirmed date. In the meantime, on 7 September 2022 Michelle Donelan was appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport but as of yet has not confirmed her position on the data protection legislation.
The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill aims to reform the existing UK data protection regime following Brexit, namely the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Bill’s announcement in the Queen’s Speech follows the UK Government's consultation entitled ‘Data: a new direction’, which was published in September 2021.
The Bill will impact individuals in addition to private and public sector organisations.
A more flexible and less burdensome regime will be welcomed by businesses operating in the UK, especially SMEs and those operating in the public sector. The new legislation may even entice organisations to bring more business to the UK. On the other hand, if the proposals are considered to diverge too far from the EU’s data regime, the UK’s adequacy status could be at risk.
Purpose of the Bill
The 'Queen's speech 2022: background briefing notes' outlines that the purpose of the Bill is to:
- Take advantage of the “benefits of Brexit” to generate a trusted world class data rights regime.
- Create a new pro-growth data protection framework that reduces burdens on businesses and boosts the economy.
- Modernise the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to take stronger action against organisations who breach data rules.
Key measures of the Bill
The briefing notes outlines the derived outcomes of the Bill is to:
- Make sure that data can be used to empower citizens and improve their lives, via more effective delivery of public healthcare, security, and government services.
- Increase industry participation in Smart Data Schemes, which will give citizens and small businesses more control of their data. The Bill will also help those who need health care treatments, by helping improve appropriate access to data in health and social care contexts.
- Create a clearer regulatory environment for personal data use that will fuel responsible innovation.
- Simplify the rules around research to cement the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower.
The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 18 July 2022, in the week leading up to parliament’s summer recess. The Bill’s second reading is expected to take place on 5 September 2022.
Interestingly, neither candidate for the Conservative leadership challenge, Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak has discussed the Bill in much detail. However, Sunak has announced that reform of the data protection landscape will be one of his top priorities, and Truss in particular has pledged to review all EU laws retained in the UK that hinder UK growth.