He believes GDPR places undue costs on businesses to comply, especially with small enterprises having to follow the same rules as global tech giants. He also spoke of aiming to unlock more trade and innovation by reducing “unnecessary barriers and burdens” on international data transfers; which will theoretically result in faster, cheaper and more reliable products for UK consumers. One argument in support of the changes points towards something close to £11bn worth of data protection barriers that are currently blocking trade with some of these nations we hope to swiftly reach agreement with.
The proposed package of measures put forward by the government is intended to ‘seize the opportunities of data’ to boost growth, trade and improve public services, but could mean significant changes in how data is treated within the UK. Dowden talks about “the freedom to chart our own course and put an end to irritating cookie popups and consent requests online”.
The counter-argument would point out that constant reminders of what data you are about to give away is an essential tool in the education of the public about the value of their personal data. Doubts will remain on whether the UK develops a default ‘opt-out’ for data collection – unless you explicitly agree to ‘opt-in’. A common example of an explicit ‘opt-in’ is a pop-up message explaining your consent is a value exchange where the publisher provide content to you for free but will make use of your data in some way. We worry that the opposite is being suggested (then you will have to click ‘opt-out’) and will follow this story closely. We might also need your help later in the year to register our collective feelings if the balance tips too far away from our individual rights.
The EU has threatened to revoke the data sharing arrangements that allow us to co-operate on airline passenger data and terrorist threats (amongst others) if we change course too drastically away from what they perceive as privacy rights for the individual.
IPS believes it is essential that permission is needed before any personal data is shared with third parties and that must be explained to the individual in a visible and transparent manner. Protecting that data is not just ‘Brussels red tape’ that can be cut and disposed of. UK citizens need confidence that their data is used ethically and sensibly to improve things like national security, healthcare outcomes or a zero carbon future – and not just sold out the back door to the highest bidder. Personal data and personal freedom are two of the most precious high-value commodities in the 21st century and we must be able to trust our national government to protect them.