Tory manifesto hints that GDPR will be abandoned

DataIQ News

The UK's implementation of GDPR could be under threat, according to one legal expert who has raised concerns that the Conservative Party manifesto appears to suggest the party will abandon the new EU legislation.

The manifesto, unveiled this week, promises a new digital charter that “balances freedom with protection for users, and offers opportunities alongside obligations for businesses and platforms”.

It also flags up the launch of a new Data Use & Ethics Commission which will advise regulators, including the Information Commissioner's Office, and Parliament on the nature of data use.

Ashley Winton, partner at law firm Paul Hastings and chairman of the UK Data Protection Forum, said:  "Many commentators had assumed that upon Brexit the Great Repeal Bill would contain a cut and paste of the GDPR into English law so that we could maintain the same standards of data protection with our friends in on the continent. But is this what is being offered here?

"The Conservatives are offering to give people new rights to ensure they are in control of their own data, including the ability to require major social media platforms to delete information held about them at the age of 18, the ability to access and export personal data and an expectation that personal data held should be stored in a secure way."

He maintains that these new rights "look more like the rights we currently have under UK data protection law rather than the more expansive rights under the GDPR, and the Data Use & Ethics Commission looks like a body that is taking over some of the future function of the European Data Protection Board".

Winton added: "If the UK does not maintain the same standards of data protection as prescribed by the GDPR, the transfer of personal data between continental Europe and the UK will become more difficult, and this could have implications upon businesses and their service providers who need a free flow of personal data across Europe. As to the future of the GDPR in the UK, it looks like we will see more cut and less paste.”

The Conservatives have also come under fire from the tech industry over plans to force businesses to pay a £2,000 charge for hiring overseas workers, amid fears it could accelerate the skills crisis.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: "In a global race for talent and innovation, UK firms risk being left in the starting blocks because of a blunt approach to immigration." Meanwhile, industry group Tech UK slammed the move as a "retrograde tax on value-generating talent".

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