The government said it believed the new rules would not stop the free flow of data with the European Union, while lawyers said the UK was implementing incremental reforms.
Britain's post-Brexit data handling rules reflect the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive law passed by the bloc in 2016. In turn, the EU recognized UK standards - a process called adequacy - which ensured the smooth flow of data.
The European Commission (EC) said in August that it "would be closely monitoring any changes to UK rules", adding that adequacy could be suspended, terminated or changed if the changes resulted in an unacceptable level of protection. Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said the reforms "will make it easier for businesses and researchers to unlock the potential of data" and support "the global data protection gold standard." For example, the bill would eliminate the need for small businesses to have a data protection officer and conduct lengthy impact assessments, and a privacy management program would be used for the same purpose. It will also include higher fines for companies harassing people with nasty phone calls.
The UK said the EU itself had made it clear that countries do not need the same rules to make adequate decisions. “We believe that these reforms are fully compatible with maintaining the free flow of personal data from Europe,” a government spokesman said. Linklaters technology attorney Peter Church said the government has rejected the idea of replacing the GDPR with an entirely new structure, opting instead for a step-by-step reform of the existing structure. “This is good news for data flows between the EU and the UK, as these more modest reforms mean that the EU commission is less likely to withdraw the UK's adequacy finding, which would cause serious violations,” he said.
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