UK to replace GDPR with its own system - eventually

Data protection
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The UK Secretary of State for Digital Michelle Donelan has said that the UK intends to replace the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act.

Donelan told audiences at the UK Conservative party conference in Birmingham that the act would be replaced with the UK’s “own business- and consumer-friendly British data protection system".

The former education secretary said the replacement “will be clearer for businesses to navigate” and that "no longer will our businesses be shackled by lots of unnecessary red tape".

Why the move?

As part of her criticisms of the European privacy bill, Donelan cited a working paper from the University of Oxford which claimed that based on its estimates that “on average, firms operating in the EU experienced an 8% reduction in profits, and a 2% decrease in sales, in response to the enforcement of the GDPR in 2018”.

“Our new data protection plan will focus on growth and common sense, helping to prevent losses from cyberattacks and data breaches, while protecting data privacy," said Donelan. 

"This will allow us to reduce the needless regulations and business-stifling elements while taking the best bits from others around the world to form a truly bespoke, British system of data protection.”

In addition, Donelan highlighted a DCMS survey that found that 50% of polled businesses said that the GDPR has led to "excessive caution" amongst their workforce when handling data.

Donelan claimed that the new legislation would be “co-designed” with businesses, and pointed to the example of countries like Israel, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and New Zealand that have achieved internally recognized standards of data protection by using GDPR.

Significant changes to the current data protection regime could potentially draw the ire of Brussels.

“The UK has left the EU but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was. Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today,” said Věra Jourová, VP for Values and Transparency at the European Commission (EC) in June 2021.

“[However], we have significant safeguards and if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene,” she added.

The bill has already received significant criticism from some quarters.

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, conservative MP and MEP, said in a tweet: “The so-called “EU GDPR” was actually partly written by me and other UK MEPs and is understood and accepted Internationally.

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Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.