Data Protection Bill Starts Committee Stage

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02 November, 2017

The Data Protection Bill started Committee Stage at the House of Lords on 30.10.2017, where the Lords had the opportunity to scrutinise the contents of the Bill line by line.

The General Data Protection Regulation ('GDPR') will come into force on 25 May 2018 and will make significant changes to the data protection landscape in the UK. The GDPR will introduce greater enforcement powers (with fines increases from a maximum of £500,000 to a maximum of €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher) and increased rights for individuals. The UK's decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Data Protection Bill will transpose into UK law the GDPR while closely following the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Committee Stage is a line by line examination of the different clauses and schedules of a bill. During this stage, every clause of the bill has to be agreed and votes of any amendments can take place. At the end of the Committee Stage, the bill moves to Report Stage for further scrutiny.

The Data Protection Bill has broadly received cross party support but much has been said about the complexity and the length of the draft legislation. Lengthy debate also surrounds the age of consent - set at 13 years old in the Bill. This provision has attracted widespread criticism for allowing the web industry to determine the age of consent. In addition, concerns have been raised about the impact of Brexit and the need to ensure that businesses can continue to exchange personal data with EU countries post Brexit. The Committee Stage will continue on the 06 November 2017 where further amendments to the Bill will be discussed.

Whilst the Bill has a number of stages still to go through and lengthy debate is still to be had, the Bill may provide relief to organisations as it attempts to preserve the spirit of the Data Protection Act 1998 and many of the current exemptions and principles are carried over into the new Data Protection Bill.

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