Right to be forgotten?

UK data protection laws to be overhauled

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"The right to be forgotten": Britons could have more control over personal information online

With the rise of social media, the added pain to a hangover, as well as the thumping head and the constant nausea, is reliving the memories of last night; and it is no longer just in your head, it can be seen on Facebook or Instagram.

There are some memories that ought to be forgotten, and it is difficult to do when they are published online for your friends, family and the world to see.

The Information Commissioner's Office defines the right to be forgotten - or the right to erasure - as: "The broad principle underpinning this right is to enable an individual to request the deletion or removal of personal data whether there is no compelling reason for its continued processing."

The Government wants to hand its citizens back some control over what happens to their personal information. The Digital Minister Matt Hancock has drafted plans that will allow Britons to ask for personal data, or information posted when they were children, to be deleted.

The Data Protection Bill will also raise maximum fines for companies who fail to comply with the privacy law, increasing from £500,000 to £17 million, or four per cent of the companies' global turnout (whichever is higher). It will, effectively, increase the powers of the Information Commissioner's Office, which oversees data protection.

According to the BBC, proposals included in the new Data Protection Bill will:

  • make it simpler for people to withdraw consent for their personal data to be used

  • let people ask for data to be deleted

  • require firms to obtain "explicit" consent when they process sensitive personal data

  • expand personal data to include IP addresses, DNA and small text files known as cookies

  • let people get hold of the information organisations hold on them much more freely

  • make re-identifying people from anonymised or pseudonymised data a criminal offence

The legislation will follow the lines of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), STV reports. This means the British and EU systems will be aligned when the UK leaves the bloc in two years' time.

The Data Protection Bill will be introduced in Parliament when MPs return from the summer recess in autumn.

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