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Concerns that the data protection bill could accidentally criminalise legitimate research has prompted the government to amend the bill and include an exemption for researchers.
The bill will include a clause making it a criminal offence to ‘intentionally or recklessly re-identify individuals from anonymised or pseudonymised data’. Security researchers had expressed fears that legitimate research demonstrating inadequate anonymisation on the part of others could be found unlawful.
The government will now introduce an amendment to the bill providing an exemption for researchers carrying out ‘effectiveness testing’.
Matt Hancock, the new culture and digital secretary, said: “We are strengthening Britain’s data protection laws to make them fit for the digital age by giving people more control over their own data. This amendment will safeguard our world-leading cybersecurity researchers to continue their vital work to uncover abuses of personal data.”