The Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill, or DPDI, is set to reshape the UK’s data protection framework. It proposes changes to laws like the UK GDPR and DPA 2018, mostly retaining the existing framework with some adjustments. The Bill is intended to be a tailored, agile, British alternative to complex European law. It’s currently in the report stage, giving MPs the chance to debate it and propose further changes.
Precision in amendment proposals
One of the pivotal amendments is to the definition of ‘personal data’. The implications of this will significantly hinge on future interpretations within case law. Additionally, the expansion of the scope of ‘scientific research’ is poised to provide much-needed clarity for researchers, effectively broadening its definition.
To streamline processing for recognised legitimate interests, a number of instances will be pre-approved. This is anticipated to greatly enhance operational efficiency for select organisations. However, it is important to note that examples of legitimate interests, while valuable, will still necessitate an assessment to ensure adherence.
Shaping new purposes and responses
Clarification of compatibility provisions for new purposes sets a clear precedent for the responsible use of personal data. This marks a notable stride towards ensuring data handling aligns with intended objectives. Moreover, the provision addressing ‘vexatious or excessive requests’ is vital, offering both guidance and practical examples to harmonise existing practices with the law.
Changes to automated processing decisions represent a fundamental safeguard, emphasising fairness in crucial decisions. While the removal of the UK representative requirement is a positive step for global organisations, they remain obligated to respond to UK data subject requests.
Structural evolution in the Data Protection Act 2018
The proposed amendments go beyond the DPA 2018 and UK GDPR’s scope. They also encapsulate fundamental changes in the very structure of the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). The proposed shift from a singular corporation to a statutory board led by a chair and CEO has generated considerable debate, particularly concerning EU/UK adequacy.
Navigating the communication landscape
In tandem with the DPDI, amendments to the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) are proposed. These include precisely defining ‘direct marketing’ and expanding exceptions for cookie usage.
Evolving roles and responsibilities
The Bill also brings a notable change by replacing statutory DPOs (data protection officers) with SRIs (senior responsible individuals). This shift, from Articles 37–39 to proposed new Articles 27A–27C of the UK GDPR, fundamentally alters how organisations handle data protection compliance.
SRIs provide more flexibility, which is especially valuable for smaller organisations where a full-time DPO might not be feasible. While larger organisations may experience minimal disruption due to established reporting structures, this change is pivotal for entities exploring this approach for the first time.
In practice, many employees with compliance responsibilities already report to the board or senior management, streamlining integration of SRIs into existing structures. The threshold for appointing an SRI is more accessible, with two criteria instead of the previous three for DPO appointments, simplifying the process.
Challenges and opportunities
As the Bill journeys through parliamentary scrutiny, its trajectory remains uncertain. For compliant organisations, the immediate impacts may be limited, while those implementing programmes could face challenges in terms of time and resources.
Additionally, while reports may portray a seismic shift, the reality is a nuanced fine-tuning of existing structures. Global organisations, particularly those straddling both EU and UK markets, may find themselves navigating dual regulatory compliance.
It’s clear that the DPDI stands as a pivotal moment in the evolution of data protection in the UK. Proactive engagement with and a keen understanding of these proposed amendments are paramount for organisations poised to navigate this transformative landscape with confidence, ushering in an era of fortified data protection.
For further details of the proposed DPDI Bill changes, please download our free guide here.