Coming soon to a Parliament near you – UK's Data Protection Bill

First reading to be squeezed into short September term

Parliament photo by Shutterstock

The UK's new legislation on data protection is to get its first airing in Parliament next month, the government has said.

The Data Protection Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech at the end of June, will replace existing data protection legislation on both corporate data and data processing by law enforcement agencies.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed to The Reg that the aim was to introduce the Bill when the House returns from summer recess in September.

The Bill will also bring the UK's laws into line with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018.

Although the UK is leaving the EU, it will have to adhere to the GDPR for about a year as a member state, and – if it wants to continue exchanging data with EU countries – will have to demonstrate compliance even after Brexit.

The House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee recently called on the UK to seek an adequacy decision from the EU that certifies it provides the right standard of protection.

The peers said this would be "least burdensome" and offer more stability or smaller businesses, echoing advice from the UK's data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office.

An adequacy agreement would effectively mean the UK's legislation would need to mirror the EU's, even if changes are made after the UK leaves the bloc. As the committee's chairman Michael Jay told The Reg last month: "The European Court of Justice is going to continue to have an indirect effect on the way our own data protection rules evolve."

However, there are some areas in which EU countries have the flexibility to set their own rules around data protection, which are expected to be laid out in the Data Protection Bill when it pops up on Parliament's agenda.

Because party conference season kicks off at the end of that month – the House only sits for just under two weeks between September 5 and 14 – there isn't too big a window for it to slip into Parliament.

But the first reading is largely a formality, with the short title read out in the House. The second reading is the first chance lawmakers get to debate it, and a date is yet to be set for that. ®


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