Culture secretary

UK culture secretary points to business-friendly data regulation post-Brexit

  • The UK is set to depart from tough EU data protection regulations with a set of new rules.
  • Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said the rules could be more “pro-growth” and less bureaucratic.
  • The UK must ensure that the rules are deemed “adequate” by the EU to ensure the free flow of data.

UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has said he wants data regulation that is “more growth-friendly, more results-based and fewer tick boxes” for a post-Brexit UK.

The UK is set to develop its own data usage regulations following its decoupling from the European Union. As a member state, the UK had complied with European data protection regulations through the Data Protection Act 2018. The Conservative government sees its withdrawal from the EU as an opportunity to reform the law.

“I have no intention of tearing up the GDPR,” Dowden said, speaking to Insider at the annual Founders Forum gathering. “What I want to make sure is that the data privacy standards enshrined in the GDPR are maintained, but I think we can do that in a way that’s more growth-friendly, results-driven and less ticked.”

Although considered a world-leading effort to protect consumer data online, GDPR has made life more complicated for internet users. European users, for example, have to deal with constant popups asking for permission to use their browsing data.

The cost to businesses has been high, with Fortune Global 500 companies spending an estimated $7.8 billion on compliance, according to the International Association for Privacy Professionals.

Dowden added that there would be a public consultation later in 2021 and said the hiring of a new Information Commissioner would be “an opportunity to recruit someone high-level globally to guide us through through this time of change. The current commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, will step down in October.

The open question is whether the UK can maintain an “adequacy” with the EU if it deviates from the GDPR. Adequacy essentially means that the EU agrees that UK laws meet its standards for privacy and data protection, which facilitates the flow of data.

A UK task force set up to present ideas for post-Brexit regulation, led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, has recommended wielding a knife at the GDPR, saying it has led to internet users being “bombarded with complex consent requests,” and that it is “prescriptive, inflexible, and especially onerous for small businesses and charities.”