Government outlines 'modern' data laws

The government's Data Protection Bill aims to make data protection laws fit for the digital age, with the latest plans including exemptions for journalists, financial firms and anti-doping bodies.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said that such exemptions would 'protect the freedom of the press, allow scientific research and maintain the integrity of professional sports'.

The Bill, published on 14 September, will impose heavier fines on those who do not protect personal data and carry existing tailored exemptions, that have worked well in the Data Protection Act 1998, into the new law.

Furthermore, the Bill, which will come into force next May, will transfer the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law, with the legislation also being maintained after Brexit.

The Bill will include exemptions for data processing in the following areas: the processing of personal data by journalists for freedom of expression and to expose wrongdoing is to be safeguarded; scientific and historical research organisations such as museums and universities will be exempt from certain obligations which would impair their core functions; national bodies responsible for the fight against doping in sport will continue to be able to process data to catch drug cheats; in the financial services sector, the pricing of risk or data processing done on suspicion of terrorist financing or money laundering will be protected; and, where it is justified, the Bill will allow the processing of sensitive and criminal conviction data without consent, including to allow employers to fulfil obligations of employment law.

Other news to be announced within the legislation will see UK firms that suffer a serious data breach facing a possible fine of up to £17 million, or four per cent of global turnover.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, said: "We are strengthening Britain’s data rules to make them fit for the digital age in which we live and that means giving people more control over their own data. There are circumstances where the processing of data is vital for our economy, our democracy and to protect us against illegality. Today, as we publish the Data Protection Bill, I am offering assurances to both the public and private sector that we are protecting this important work."

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