DCMS Proposals for Changes to Data Protection in the UK

The Government, in the shape of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have published their thoughts on changes to Data Protection. These changes, they say, will help improve the UK’s Digital economy. This economy was worth £151 billion in 2019 and accounted for 1.6 million jobs according to the DCMS Economic Estimates 2019: Gross Value Added – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). 


Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said the following in response to the publication of these proposals “The energy powering these new technologies is our data: about our behaviour, our interests, our spending patterns, our loves and likes, our beliefs, our health, sometimes even our DNA – the very building blocks that make us who we are. The economic and societal benefits of this digital growth are only possible through earning and maintaining people’s trust and their willing participation in how their data is used.”


The changes that the Government are looking at include the following: 


  • Make it easier to use, share and re-purpose data for research.
  • Removing cookie pop-ups.
  • Doing more to tackle unsolicited direct marketing calls and fraudulent calls.
  • Removing the requirement to consider whether the legitimate interests being pursued by an organisation or third party when processing data are outweighed by the impact on the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.
  • Clarifying the scope and substance of “fairness” in the data protection regime as applied to the development and deployment of AI systems.
  • Changes to subject access requests.
  • Prior consultation with the ICO on high-risk data processing.
  • Proposals around data re-use and data re-purposing.
  • Explore options that would better support certifications as an alternative transfer mechanism.
  • Ensuring organisations are accountable and can demonstrate that accountability.
  • Introduce a statutory requirement for the ICO to have regard to principles including economic growth and competition.
  • Introduce a statutory requirement for the ICO to have regard to public safety.


This list of changes proposed is not exhaustive but shows the direction the Government would like to head in. 

The proposals, the DCMS says, aim to deliver an even better data protection regime that will: 


  • support vibrant competition and innovation to drive economic growth.
  • maintain high data protection standards without creating unnecessary barriers to responsible data use.
  • keep pace with the rapid innovation of data-intensive technologies.
  • help innovative businesses of all sizes to use data responsibly without undue uncertainty or risk, both in the UK and internationally.
  • ensure the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is equipped to regulate effectively in an increasingly data-driven world.


The consultation on these proposals closes on the 19th of November. Once this process has been complete the resulting legislation will be put before Parliament. 

As Elizabeth Denham said above personal data is at the very heart of who we are, and any new legislation will affect us all.