May 12, 2022

Queen's Speech confirms UK data protection reform


The Queen's Speech 2022 (the "Speech"), given on 10 May 2022 (available here), details the UK Government's priorities for the year. Although its focus was primarily on the cost of living crisis and proposed economic measures, the Speech confirmed that the UK’s data protection regime will be reformed by way of the ‘Data Reform Bill’.

Businesses can expect the Data Reform Bill to have a large impact on their data protection practices and data governance.

This announcement follows the “Data: a new direction” consultation published by the UK Government in September 2021, which included proposals in five broad categories:

  1. Boosting trade and reducing barriers to data flows;
  2. Reduction of administrative burdens on businesses;
  3. Reduction of barriers to responsible innovation;
  4. Delivery of better public services; and
  5. Reform of the Information Commissioner's Office.

Some key proposals detailed in the consultation, which may be included in the Data Reform Bill include:

  1. An ambitious programme of risk based adequacy assessments to expand the list of countries that are designated by the UK as offering adequate data protection to include countries such as the United States of America, Singapore, Brazil and Australia;
  2. Removing or reducing documentation and governance requirements for businesses such as the need to appoint a Data Protection Officer, undertake data protection impact assessments, keep records of processing activities and remove the need to consult with the ICO before undertaking high risk processing activities;
  3. Allowing businesses to use analytics cookies and other similar technologies without requiring the consent of users to reduce excessive cookie pop-ups on devices; and
  4. Providing clarification as to the ‘legitimate interests' ground used for lawful processing of personal data though the use of an exhaustive list of pre-approved legitimate interests for which businesses can process data without undertaking further testing.

For further information on the proposed measures consulted on, please see our previous legal update available here. The outcome of the consultation has not yet been published, following its closure to responses in November 2021.

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