Data Reform Bill

The Data Reform Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022.

This is a bill to review and reform the UK’s data protection laws, including UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. There is no specific detail or dates at the moment, but the high-level purpose and benefits were outlined.

Aims, Benefits and Purpose

A number of aims and benefits are suggested that the government believe will support businesses. One aim is to reduce the perceived burdens faced in creating a data protection framework. For example, simplifying the rules around use of data in research, putting in place a regulatory environment that will help innovation and scientific progress, and make changes to modernise the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Another purpose of the bill is to help those who need health treatment through better access to data in health and care contexts. This is likely to have an impact on systems and processes in these organisations.

The government has stated that the bill will largely apply to the UK. Although it has been identified that some aspects may only apply to England and Wales.

Why has this been introduced?

Well… the government’s view is that the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 are highly complex and prescriptive pieces of legislation. They say that these create a burden on businesses with little benefit to citizens.

It remains to be seen if the proposed bill will reduce the burden, or in fact increase the burden on businesses, at least in the short term, as they will be required to review and update polices and procedures that they have worked to put in place in recent years.

Any concerns?

There is a concern that radically changing the UK data protection laws could have an impact on the EU’s Adequacy Decision [in place until 2025] that currently allows the ‘easier’ transfer or flow of data between the EU and UK. If this were to be withdrawn by the EU, businesses may face some issues or contractual amendments if they process data (including storage) in the EU, or work with EU customers.

Added to this is the proposal to introduce a Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 may also have an impact on the EU Adequacy Decision.

Interesting times ahead!