Data Reform Bill back on track in Tory leadership race

itv 2The Conservative Party leadership race has breathed new life into the Data Reform Bill with frontrunner Rishi Sunak vowing to overhaul GDPR as part of a pledge to axe hundreds of remaining EU laws if he becomes the next Prime Minister.

With the remaining five candidates still jostling for position, Sunak is launching an appeal to the Brexiteer vote by insisting he would appoint a Brexit minister to go through the remaining 2,400 EU laws still on the statute book.

The Brexit minister will be instructed to produce the first set of recommendations for rules to be scrapped or changed within 100 days of Sunak entering No 10, he said.

In a statement setting out his proposals before ITV’s Britain’s Next Prime Minister debate, Sunak claimed that he had always backed Brexit – even though he had been warned it could damage his political career – because it was the “right thing” for the country.

He added: “The Government would remove the burdens of GDPR and put in its place the most dynamic data protection regime in the world.

“The EU’s Byzantine rules are preventing British tech companies from innovating and public services from sharing data to prevent crime. As any Internet user can see, GDPR – with all its bureaucratic box-ticking – is clearly not working and needs to be replaced.”

While Sunak is still short of enough votes to secure the leadership, his pledge is likely to up the ante on replacing GDPR.

Some commentators had predicted that the Data Reform Bill could be delayed, although there has been neither an official notification, nor a timetable set either.

Ministers have already paused the Online Safety Bill, which had been in its final stages and was to be discussed in Parliament this week, but is now on hold until MPs return from their summer break.

The Data Reform Bill also features heavily in the Information Commissioner’s Office three-year plan – dubbed ICO25 – which also including tackling predatory marketing calls, the Freedom of Information system, children’s privacy, AI-driven discrimination, and the use of algorithms.

ICO25’s main appeal to business, however, is that there will be a package of actions designed to help them save at least £100m across the next three years – a figure first cited by Government ministers back in August 2021.

Commissioner John Edwards claimed last week that these savings would come from ICO devised training and advice programmes, hosted on the regulator’s website.

Exact details of how this will work and when it will be available have yet to be released.

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