New data laws could lead to fewer online pop-ups and bigger fines for cold callers
Reducing the number of pop-up cookie banners on websites and tougher fines for companies making nuisance calls are at the center of new data law proposals released by the government. As part of the data reform bills announced in the Queen’s Speech, ministers have proposed replacing pop-up cookie alerts on websites with an opt-out system where users set global data permissions in their web browser settings, removing the need to consent to cookies on every site they visit.
Under the proposals in the new bill, fines for nuisance calls and texts will be increased from the current maximum of £500,000 to 4% of worldwide turnover or £17.5 million, whichever is greater. As part of the government’s plans to cut data protection ‘bureaucracy’, the bill will remove the requirement for small businesses to have a data protection officer or undertake data protection assessments. impact when the risk to data is low.
The government said the bill’s aim was to revamp UK data laws for the digital age and take advantage of the UK’s exit from the European Union by streamlining aspects of the general regulation on Data Protection (GDPR) which was introduced in the EU and the UK four years ago. The proposals have been published as part of an official response to a consultation on the reform of data laws in the UK.
“Today is an important step in cementing post-Brexit Britain’s position as a science and technology superpower,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. “Our new Data Reform Bill will make it easier for businesses and researchers to unleash the power of data to grow the economy and improve society, but retains our global benchmark for data protection.
“Outside the EU, we can ensure people can control their personal data, while preventing businesses, researchers and civil society from being held back by a lack of clarity and cumbersome EU legislation.”
The bill also proposes a restructuring of the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO), including giving new powers to the Secretary of Culture to approve statutory codes and ICO guidelines. Information Commissioner John Edwards said he supported “the ambition of these reforms”.
“I am happy to see that the government has taken our concerns about independence into account,” he said. “Data protection law must give people the confidence to share their information to use the products and services that power our economy and our society.
“The proposed changes will allow my office to continue to operate as a trusted, fair and impartial regulator, and allow us to be more flexible and focus our action in response to the greatest harms.”
In addition, the government said the bill will simplify legal requirements for research by more clearly defining the scope of scientific research so that scientists can more easily use the data in their work. The government said the proposals will make it easier for researchers to know when they can obtain user consent to collect or use data for research purposes.