The outlook for scientific research under the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill

The proposed Bill removes the need to define the ultimate research purpose before collecting personal data, as further processing activity can take place in certain circumstances. By Victoria Hordern of Taylor Wessing.

In recent times the UK government has frequently promoted the UK as a scientific superpower. On one of its latest front covers, the Economist magazine hailed the life science industry as providing vital lessons in growth for the British economy. Therefore, it’s no surprise that enabling scientific research is part of what the recently introduced bill to reform data ­protection law aims to do(1).

The draft Data Protection and Digital Information Bill amends existing data protection law following the UK government’s consultation Data: A New Direction(2). In its consultation and response, the government indicated that it would make changes in order to bring existing provisions together in one place in the law, as well as to make other aspects of the law clearer. For a number of the changes concerning scientific research purposes, there is no substantial change to the law as we currently have it – the changes are more cosmetic. However, other changes appear more significant.

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