By Max Salsbury
The government has announced plans to ‘strengthen and update’ the UK’s data protection laws – in a move that will be bad news for firms whose sole purpose is to find out everything about everyone on the planet, but good news for anyone who’s ever embarrassed themselves on the internet at 2am.
According to the government, its Data Protection Bill will ‘provide everyone with the confidence that their data will be managed securely and safely’.
Designed to bring the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law, the Bill includes the chop for pre-selected tick boxes – more bad news for companies that count on people who can’t be bothered to read terms and conditions when trying to sign up for…well, anything on the internet really.
Addressing perennial concerns about children and the internet, the Bill will also forbid companies from using children’s data without parental permission.
• Make it simpler to withdraw consent for the use of personal data
• Allow people to ask for their personal data held by companies to be erased
• Require ‘explicit’ consent to be necessary for processing sensitive personal data
• Expand the definition of ‘personal data’ to include IP addresses, internet cookies and DNA
• Make it easier and free for individuals to require an organisation to disclose the personal data it holds on them
• Make it easier for customers to move data between service providers
And just in case any firms are already dreaming up ways to get around the new regulations, the government is planning some brand new criminal offences to ‘deter organisations from either intentionally or recklessly creating situations where someone could be identified from anonymised data.’
Businesses are also set to be ‘supported to ensure they are able to manage and secure data properly’ – which basically means making sure they don’t break the new laws. Those caught being naughty with data in future could be handed fines of up to £17 million by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO); which sounds terrifying to most of us but is the sort of figure the likes of Facebook probably spends on a staff away day.
Matt Hancock, minister for all things digital, said: ‘Our measures are designed to support businesses in their use of data, and give consumers the confidence that their data is protected and those who misuse it will be held to account.’
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, added: ‘We are pleased the government recognises the importance of data protection, its central role in increasing trust and confidence in the digital economy and the benefits the enhanced protections will bring to the public.’
Here’s a video of Minister Hancock earnestly explaining everything, albeit with a rather intense expression on his face: