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UK could save ‘billions’ with new data laws, government says

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The UK government has introduced the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which it said would ease the compliance burden for businesses and help them save £4.7bn.

Science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan will introduce the data law proposal to the House of Commons today.

The legislation intends to reform the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with measures that would reduce costs and regulations for UK businesses while retaining the UK’s data adequacy agreement with the EU.

The "common sense-led" reforms are expected to unlock £4.7bn in savings for the UK economy over the next 10 years, according to the government. 

“Our system will be easier to understand, easier to comply with, and take advantage of the many opportunities of post-Brexit Britain," Donelan said. “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 new regulations are expected to cut down "pointless paperwork" and reduce "annoying cookie pop-ups". It would also provide businesses with "more flexibility" about how they can comply with data laws. 

Although the new regulatory framework would move the UK away from the EU regulation, the government said the proposed law would "maintain data adequacy" with the bloc, as to not harm trade between countries. 

The proposals would also change the structure and objectives of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), including appointing a chair, chief executive and board, the government said. Currently, the ICO is an independent body which describes itself as being “set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals”.

The bill will also establish a framework for the use of trusted and secure digital verification services, which allow people to prove their identity digitally if they choose to do so.

Alongside these new changes, the bill will increase fines for nuisance calls and texts to be either up to 4 per cent of global turnover or £17.5m, whichever is greater. 

The proposal also stresses the need to increase public and business confidence in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies by clarifying the circumstances when robust safeguards apply to automated decision-making.

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, 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.

“The bill will ensure my office can continue to operate as a trusted, fair and independent regulator.”

Chris Combemale, chair of the DPDI Business Advisory Group and CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK), said: “The DMA has collaborated with the government throughout the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill’s development to champion the best interests of both businesses and their customers.

"We are confident that the bill should act as a catalyst for innovation and growth, while maintaining robust privacy protections across the UK – an essential balance which will build consumer trust in the digital economy.”

Data-driven trade generated 85 per cent of the UK’s total service exports and contributed an estimated £259bn for the economy in 2021, according to government estimates.

The Data Reform Bill was first announced during the Queen’s Speech at the Opening of Parliament last May and presented in draft form in September, before undergoing changes. 

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