Faculty opposes wholesale reform of UK’s data protection regime

20 Dec

IT is premature to suggest in the current post-Brexit social, economic, and political landscape that a radical overhaul of the United Kingdom’s Data Protection regime is necessary or desirable, says the Faculty of Advocates.

The Faculty was responding to the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s consultation entitled ‘Data: A New Direction’. The proposed package of reforms addressed via the consultation aimed to “create an ambitious, pro-growth and innovation-friendly regime that underpins the trustworthy use of data.” Specifically, the proposed changes were expected to reduce barriers to innovation, lessen burdens on businesses and deliver better outcomes for people, boost trade and reduce barriers to data flows, deliver better public services and reform the Information Commissioner’s Office.

However, the Faculty believed that given that less than four years had passed since the enforcement of the GDPR in the EU and the Data Protection Act within the UK, it was difficult to advance any empirical or logical basis as to why the current regime was no longer fit for purpose. It believed that greater engagement with the public, private and third sectors to identify any perceived strengths, weaknesses and room for improvement within the current regime was required before any wholesale reforms were made. Until this was done, the Faculty felt that reforms should be limited to nuanced and incremental changes.

In considering whether changes should be made to the Information Commissioner’s Office the Faculty stated that in the absence of any compelling evidence that it was unfit for purpose in its current form and function, this would be unwise. It cautioned against a wholesale expansion of its enforcement powers, stating that these were already expansive, being both investigative and punitive in nature.

The Faculty’s full response can be accessed here