Last reviewed 16 September 2021

Employers will no doubt remember the months leading up to May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force and they had to have new policies and warning notices in place showing their awareness of the need for data protection and privacy.

As an EU Regulation, the GDPR became law across the Union on that date, including in the UK which was still a member despite having voted to leave in 2016.

Once Brexit was complete, the new rules were largely carried forward as UK GDPR.

However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has now launched a consultation seeking views on plans to introduce new reforms to the UK’s data protection regime.

With full details available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/data-a-new-direction, the consultation is open for comments until 19 November.

The aim, according to the DCMS, is to create an ambitious, pro-growth and innovation-friendly data protection regime that underpins the trustworthy use of data.

(The then) Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Data is one of the most important resources in the world and we want our laws to be based on common sense, not box-ticking. Now that we have left the EU, we have the freedom to create a new world-leading data regime that unleashes the power of data across the economy and society.”

The Government intends to help innovative businesses of all sizes to use data responsibly without undue uncertainty or risk, both in the UK and internationally, while ensuring that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is equipped to regulate effectively in an increasingly data-driven world.

It recognises that the current regime places disproportionate burdens on many organisations. For example, the DCMS suggests, a small hairdressing business should not have the same data protection processes as a multimillion pound tech firm.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

It is uncertain what will come from this consultation — employers may find that nothing comes from it or that reforms go ahead which may affect their business, however little.

Either way, employers will need to keep up to date with developments on this topic and await the Government’s response before they know how to move forward.