Proposed changes to data protection legislation

Posted on March 1st, 2023

Last year, the government announced its intention to replace the UK GDPR with a Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 18 July 2022 and was scheduled to have its second reading on 5 September 2022. However, following the election of Liz Truss as leader of the Conservative Party, the government made a statement to say that the second reading would not take place as scheduled, in order to allow ministers to consider the Bill further. A new date for the second reading has yet to be published.

The Bill is intended to update and simplify the UK’s data protection framework. If it is passed, the most significant changes will be:

  • The implementation of a more flexible and risk-based accountability framework based on a privacy management programme.
  • A move away from cookies consent to an opt-out model.
  • A change in the threshold for charging a reasonable fee or refusing a subject access request from ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’ to ‘vexatious or excessive’.
  • The creation of a limited number of defined processing activities for which organisations could use personal data without applying the legitimate interest balancing test.

In addition, it is proposed that the powers of the Information Commissioner’s Office (the ICO) would be reformed and transferred to a new body – the Information Commission. The ICO has undertaken two consultations, which closed in January 2023:

  • Monitoring at work.
  • Processing workers’ health data.

This is part of an on-going project to replace the ICO’s employment code of practice with new practical guidance for employers.

The ICO’s draft guidance document on monitoring at work can be found here and on processing workers’ health data can be found here.

The full details of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill can be here.

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