31 October 2016
The government has now confirmed that the UK will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP used her appearance before the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee to say:
“We will be members of the EU in 2018 and therefore it would be expected and quite normal for us to opt into the GDPR and then look later at how best we might be able to help British business with data protection while maintaining high levels of protection for members of the public.”
I see this as good news for the UK. One of the key drivers for data protection change is the importance and continuing evolution of the digital economy in the UK and around the world. That is why both the ICO and UK government have pushed for reform of the EU law for several years. The digital economy is primarily built upon the collection and exchange of data, including large amounts of personal data – much of it sensitive. Growth in the digital economy requires public confidence in the protection of this information.
Citizens want the benefits of these digital services but they want privacy rights and strong protections too. Having sound, well-formulated and properly enforced data protection safeguards help mitigate risks and inspire public trust and confidence in how their information is handled by business, third sector organisations, the state and public service.
The major shift with the implementation of the GDPR will be in giving people greater control over their data. This has to be a good thing. Today’s consumers understand that they need to share some of their personal data with organisations to get the best service. But they’re right to expect organisations to then keep that information safe, be transparent about its use and for organisations to demonstrate their accountability for their compliance.
The ICO is committed to assisting businesses and public bodies to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond.
As early as January 2016, we met with organisations to better understand the challenges they will face to comply with the law, and we’ve already started to publish work to help with that, from our 12 steps to take towards compliance to our recent privacy notices code of practice which includes GDPR detail.
Within the next month, we’ll publish a revised timeline setting out what areas of guidance we’ll be prioritising over the next six months. As ever, everything will be published on the ICO website, and we’ll flag updates on twitter and through our e-newsletter.
In the meantime, anyone looking to get up to speed should start by reading our overview to GDPR, which sets out the key themes of the regulation to help organisations understand the similarities with the existing UK Data Protection Act, and of course some of the new requirements.
I acknowledge that there may still be questions about how the GDPR would work on the UK leaving the EU but this should not distract from the important task of compliance with GDPR by 2018. We’ll be working with government to stay at the centre of these conversations about the long term future of UK data protection law and to provide our advice and counsel where appropriate.