I am writing to you to inform you of the publication today by Her Majesty’s Government of a consultation on reforms to the UK’s personal data protection regime. The UK Government is launching a public consultation on reforms to create a new, ambitious, pro-growth and innovation-friendly data protection regime that underpins the trustworthy use of data for an even better UK data rights regime. As the Prime Minister made clear to this House in February last year, the Government will operate an independent policy on data protection outside of the EU. This consultation is the first step in delivering on that objective. Outside of the EU, the UK can reshape its approach to regulation and seize new opportunities to remove pointless bureaucracy, helping to drive growth, innovation and competition across the country. Data is a huge strategic asset, and is often referred to as the oil of the 21st century digital economy. A core mission is to create a more pro-growth and trusted regime for personal data protection.
The Government wants to unlock the power of this data to drive innovation and boost the economy, while continuing to protect people’s safety and privacy, and has made doing so one of its Ten Tech Priorities. The UK needs agile and adaptable data protection laws that enhance its global reputation as a hub for responsible data-driven business that respects high standards of data protection. We need to enable responsible innovation and a focus on privacy outcomes while avoiding imposing any rules today that become obsolete tomorrow as technology evolves. Throughout this process, the UK intends to maintain its high standards of data protection, while taking a pragmatic and risk-based approach, rather than one that over-emphasises bureaucratic exercises. Internationally, our reforms will allow us to operate a risk-based and proportionate regime that allows the UK to strike deals with some of the fastest growing economies in the world while keeping people's data safe and secure.
We are also working on plans for data partnerships with some of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies, like Australia, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Constructive discussions are already underway. In practice for our day-to-day lives, and those of our constituents, these proposed reforms mean:
● Not having to deal with the bureaucracy of documenting or referencing an assessment of legitimate interest when reporting criminal acts or safeguarding concerns to the appropriate authorities.
● Having the Information Commissioner’s Office on your side whether you’re a consumer or a business. The Information Commissioner’s Office is one of the most important regulators in the UK, responsible for supervising almost every organisation in the country. Our reforms will ensure it works with organisations who want to use data responsibly while having the tools it needs to tackle the biggest risks that undermine public trust and confidence. We recently announced the selection of John Edwards as the government’s preferred candidate as the new Information Commissioner. Edwards is currently the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner.
● Being confident that you’re complying with the law, and using data responsibly, regardless of the size of your organisation. Our reforms move towards a more pragmatic, risk based approach rather than the “one-size-fits-all” approach and will allow smaller organisations to demonstrate their compliance more appropriately. Members of local sports clubs should not have to follow the same intensive compliance rules as a billion-pound business.
● Benefiting from a tougher approach to nuisance calls as a result of plans to strengthen the ICO’s enforcement powers against companies responsible for flouting direct marketing rules, look into voluntary industry-led action and explore whether to mandate communications providers to do more to block calls and texts at source or to provide free-of-charge call-blocking services.
These reforms will keep people’s data safe and secure, while ushering in a new golden age of growth and innovation right across the UK, as we build back better. They are part of our wider work on digital technology - building on our groundbreaking Digital Regulation Plan and Online Safety Bill - and I hope you will all join me in supporting this work.