MEPs raise concerns over the UK DP legislative framework

The UK’s Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill will not be over the line until some time next spring, but members of the European Parliament are already worried. Why? The EU-UK adequacy decision is in place, and now the UK has its separate arrangement with the US, mirroring that of the EU’s.

The MEPs are concerned about the UK government’s desire to leave the European Convention on Human Rights – the backbone of data protection frameworks. The civil liberties committee’s opinion also comments on the Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill, saying that in its current form, the Bill could further jeopardise the adequacy decision granted to the UK. The EU Commission has said it will closely monitor the situation and repeal the adequacy decisions if privacy is no longer “essentially equivalent” in the UK.

The MEPs also say the Bill would undermine the independence of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and introduce powers that would allow the government to interfere with the ICO exercising its functions(1).

While helpful, the UK-US Data Bridge is not a solution to all data transfer situations due to its non-exhaustive scope. If businesses cannot use the new UK-US Data Bridge because their transfers are in sectors not covered by the framework, they will continue with Binding Corporate Rules or Standard Contractual Clauses. Other challenges remain too.

New legislation addressing online harms is now in place. The Online Safety Act will, according to the government, “make the UK the safest place in the world to be online”. The government is also promoting safe AI with its international summit.

We are including an interesting management story in this issue on how Clear Channel attempts to stay clear of data protection problems in its Out of Home advertising which gathers data, but mostly non-identifiable information. Clear Channel is providing a platform for good, and uses Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) to ensure that any personal data processed is necessary to provide the services. A good model for improving the bad reputation of the online advertising environment. Read more about the challenges and advantages of using PETs.

Laura Linkomies
Editor, Privacy Laws & Business

  1. Opinion on the implementation report on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (2022/2188(INI))

November 2023