As we all know, the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) was introduced in Europe in 2016, a piece of legislation that the European Union describes as “one of its greatest achievements in recent years”.
The aim of this legislation was to provide greater data protection and rights for individuals, as well as to provide a ‘harmonised’ system of data privacy laws across the continent.
Data privacy is a topic of great importance to all of us these days, particularly as technological developments have made our personal information so easy to access. While people can use various methods to regain control over their data such as opting out and subscribing to data removal services to retrieve information already obtained by various information brokers, we still face the threat of hacking and other forms of privacy breaches. This means that any changes to data privacy laws are of keen interest to all of us, as they can have far-reaching impacts on our lives, our privacy, and our security.
The impact of Brexit
While the rest of Europe continues to follow the regulations laid out by GDPR, in the UK, it seems that a new system will soon be introduced. This is because, only a few short years after GDPR was introduced in the UK, Brexit became an official reality, beginning in early 2020.
Fast forward a couple of years, and at the beginning of October 2022, Michelle Donelan, the British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made a game-changing announcement. This revelation will have a major impact on how data is protected in the UK going forward.
Donelan revealed that the UK would be replacing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation policy with its own “bespoke, British system of data protection”.
A benefit for UK business – or a hindrance?
The goal of this new system is to “unleash the full growth potential of British business”, which Donelan claimed had been limited by GDPR, as well as freeing businesses from “unnecessary red tape.”
It is hoped that, by breaking free of the legislative strictures of the EU, Britain will be able to create a more attractive environment for businesses, particularly those working in the data sciences sector.
However, the UK’s desire to distance itself from EU laws and guidance may come with a price, and the government is having to carefully consider its new approach to protecting sensitive data, pausing the Data Reform Bill while it decides how best to proceed.
Just how safe will UK data be?
In her speech in early October, Donelan explained that the new data protection plan “will focus on growth and common sense, helping to prevent losses from cyber attacks and data breaches, while protecting data privacy”.
However, many aren’t convinced. Privacy activists have already been voicing their dismay at the proposed amendments and UK businesses are concerned that the country’s adequacy status may be impacted by the new system. If adequacy is jeopardised, the new privacy legislation could actually serve to hamper business’ ability to make a profit, as they would lose the trust of their customers.
It remains to be seen how the changes will affect UK residents, but there seems little doubt that many will be awaiting the final amendments with some measure of trepidation.