A lot has transpired since the U.K. government presented its national data strategy in December 2020, both in the U.K. and across the data protection spectrum. Most recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the restructuring of four government departments, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to effectively pull out the digital components and form a new ministry, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Michelle Donelan, who now serves as U.K. Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, will speak Thursday at the IAPP Data Protection Intensive: U.K. The DSIT is poised to lead efforts on reforming the country's data protection law, the U.K. General Data Protection Regulation.
Donelan recently rebuffed a report that the U.K. was placing data reform on pause, saying the new reform proposal will be introduced this week.
Though the government has not officially said when a draft reform will go public, a reform proposal could be introduced to the U.K. Parliament as early as Wednesday.
This is not the first time the U.K. government has proposed draft reform of the U.K. GDPR post-Brexit. Last July, the government unveiled a data reform bill in tandem with a proposal for regulating artificial intelligence. The proposed Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was broken into six parts: data protection, digital verification services, customer data and business data, provisions regarding digital information, regulation and oversight, and final provision.
Last year's proposal would have increased fines for nuisance calls, eased requirements for cookie banner popups and relaxed some rules around the use of personal data in scientific research. Additionally, last year's reform would "modernize" the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office, "so that it remains an internationally renowned regulator, including increased investigatory powers to help it keep pace with changing practices."
Of course, any mention of reform of GDPR reform also gives rise to concerns about EU adequacy. The EU plans to review its adequacy decision with the U.K. every four years. Last fall, members of the European Parliament were not shy about their displeasure with the U.K.'s reform plans.
Last fall, with turbulence regarding the quick succession of Prime Ministers after Boris Johnson's departure, the data reform bill was put on hold. At the time, Donelan announced an intent to alter the country's approach to reforming the U.K. GDPR to "focus on growth and common sense" while being "business and consumer-friendly." She said it should move away from the "bureaucratic nature" of the EU GDPR with the intent to simplify it so businesses "won't have to wrap their heads around complicated legislation."
Though it is not clear what changes, if any, will be made to last year's proposal, we should know more about this year's reform bill in the coming days.
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