The Data Protection Act debate is now over and the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham has already welcomed the new regime. Despite the fact that the act has already passed all the necessary stages needed to be law, there are still some parties who are not ready to welcome the act. The legislation is meant to mirror the GDPR by establishing a framework by which the UK and the EU will be able to exchange data after Brexit.
While the conventional way to achieve such a feat would be to ask the EU to make an adequacy agreement with the UK, it has come to light that the Brexit negotiation team is pushing for a model that is even more elaborate than the current model. The opposition to the new act is backed by a number of concerns that have been raised by different parties. The following are some key reasons why the act is not welcomed by all.
1. New hefty fines
While most consumers are conscious about how their data is used, it has emerged that the new act comes with hefty fines for law violators. Companies and organizations will specifically be required to pay hefty fines in case they are found to be in contradiction to the data protection laws. Individuals might also be targeted if they are found to be aiding in the misuse of data. Many people who exchange data via peer-to-peer systems often use VPN for torrenting. It is not clear how such internet users will be affected but it is already clear that organizations will be dealt with serious sanctions under the new regime.
2. New exemptions undermine individual rights
Another concern raised by those who are not welcoming the act is the new exemptions that have been introduced. Privacy International, an organization that is involved with checking issues relating to individual privacy has come out to raise concerns that particularly relate to exemptions that have been recently introduced. Activists and civil society groups have also recently raised concern about these exemptions which can undermine the rights of individuals. The deliberate use of vague “national security concerns” as a mean to violate individual rights has been these groups.
3. The act is viewed as outdated
A number of groups have also indicated that the new act is outdated. These groups have lamented that since most of the shortcomings that come with the act have been discussed previously, it seems like the proposals in the act are not addressing issues that might arise in the future. The new act comes with proposals that particularly touch on issues that have already been raised and addressed. What the act does not include is provisions for future possibilities and likelihoods. This being the case, it can be argued that the act might need to be amended very shortly after it has been passed.
4. It might be rejected by the EU post-Brexit
Another issue that has been raised by advocacy groups, civil society groups, and privacy organizations is that the act might be flatly rejected by the EU after Brexit is fully in place. This is because the act has some aspect that goes against the provisions of the GDPR. In a post-Brexit time, there would simply be no time to discuss any further agreements about the act with the EU. This means that the act might as well be of no use if the issues that currently exist are not addressed.
5. There are concerns that human right issues have not been fully addressed
Many organisations already recognize the right to privacy and data as a human right. It has thus been argued by privacy and data organizations that not only is the new act questionable in human rights terms, but it is also lacking in terms of important political concerns. Organizations like Privacy International have argued that data is closely linked to how governments are run and thus there needs to be clear mechanisms that guide how data is accessed and used for political purposes.
The Data Protection Act is undoubtedly necessary, not just because the UK is leaving the EU but also because the time is right to have a proper data law. It, however, comes with some shortcomings that might prove to be difficult to address within the time frame that the government hopes to have it in place.