Following the General Election, the Queen’s Speech recently opened the new Parliament and outlined the policies that the Government is to follow for the next two years. Below, we have used the speech to ‘predict’ the future for topics relating to intellectual property and data protection.
We have covered in various other Briffa blogs how a new EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to come into force and apply from May 2018. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 (as Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017), so the Queen’s Speech contains a new Data Protection Bill which will implement the GDPR whilst the UK is an EU member. Furthermore, the Repeal Bill outlined in the Speech will convert (where practical) existing EU laws into UK law and the UK parliament can then make changes as and when required. Therefore, processors and controllers of personal data in the UK also should prepare now to comply with the GDPR.
The Data Protection Bill aims to ensure that the UK is able to share data with the EU and internationally and to update data protection for the digital age. The Speech specifically mentions the GDPR stronger powers and punishments that will be available to the Information Commissioner’s Office for data protection breaches and the ‘right to be forgotten’, which is the right for individuals to request that businesses delete personal data they have about the individual if certain conditions apply (e.g. the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was collected/ processed) and an exception (e.g. freedom of expression and information) does not apply. The Speech also mentions that individuals 18 and over will have the right to make social media platforms delete information about them.
The government wants to make the UK the “safest place to be online” and the “best place to start and run a digital business” and it will do this through a Digital Charter backed by a regulatory framework. To produce the Charter, the government will be working with various interested parties (e.g. technology companies and charities). The Speech includes that the government will make it “easier for companies and consumers to do business online” and, although further detail is not provided, it is likely that this will include matters outlined in the Conservative Manifesto 2017. This includes businesses being able to insist on digital signatures and digital cancellation of contracts, backing digital ways of proving identity, digital companies having to provide digital receipts and making terms and conditions clearer when selling goods/services online. We will be keeping an eye on this Digital Charter to see how terms and conditions for selling goods and services online may need to be amended and on new ways available of signing and ending contracts digitally.
The Conservative Manifesto (p. 78) also stated that “we will ensure there is a robust system for protection of intellectual property when the UK has left the EU, with strong protections against infringement” and, although not explained further in the Speech, we will be looking out for the government’s proposals on this.