Image source: House of Commons, CC BY 3.0
The UK Government has introduced a new version of its Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to Parliament, highlighting features including a framework for digital verification services and new arrangements for scientific research.
The bill was first introduced in summer of last year but has been subject to revisions to deal with issues of concern.
Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan mainly emphasised the benefits claimed for businesses – such as reducing the need for data collection pop-ups online and cutting down on paperwork – in launching the bill.
But the announcement also included points with a relevance to public services.
These include establishing a framework for the use of trusted and secure digital verification services. Donelan said the measures will allow customers to create certified digital identities that make it easier to prove things about themselves.
She also said the bill updates the definition of scientific research to clarify that commercial organisations will have the same freedoms as academics, such as making it easier to re-use data for research purposes. The definition of scientific research in the bill is non-exhaustive in that it retains any processing that “could reasonably be described as scientific”.
Easier to understand
Donelan said: “Our system will be easier to understand, easier to comply with, and take advantage of the many opportunities of post-Brexit Britain. No longer will our businesses and citizens have to tangle themselves around the barrier-based European GDPR.”
“Our new laws release British businesses from unnecessary red tape to unlock new discoveries, drive forward next generation technologies, create jobs and boost our economy.”
The bill also confirms plans to change the governance of the Information Commissioner’s Office, with a statutory board with a chair and chief executive.
Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “I welcome the reintroduction of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and support its ambition to enable organisations to grow and innovate whilst maintaining high standards of data protection rights. Data protection law needs to give people confidence to share their information to use the products and services that power our economy and society.
“The bill will ensure my office can continue to operate as a trusted, fair and independent regulator. We look forward to continuing to work constructively with the Government to monitor how these reforms are expressed in the bill as it continues its journey through Parliament.”
Other benefits claimed for the bill include that it will increase public confidence in the use of AI technologies, and maintain data adequacy with the EU.