DMA calls on main parties to prioritise data, tech and AI

dma 1The DMA is determined that the Government’s data reforms do not sink without trace and is calling on the next administration to make data, technology and AI the foundation for innovation, growth, and improved productivity in the UK economy.

The move follows the failure to include the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill (No2) into the Government’s “wash up” process, which fast-tracks some legislation before Parliament is dissolved. And although many organisations welcomed its demise, the DMA feels it was a missed opportunity.

CEO Chris Combemale maintains the new Government must improve economic productivity by enabling organisations to attract new customers and retain existing customers, while making the UK a more attractive place for the research, development, and deployment of AI technology.

As such, the DMA is demanding that the next party in power reforms data protection legislation and skills development with a 10-point manifesto to drive growth and innovation across the economy and in public services, which is as follows:

– Maintain high standards of data protection to build trust and confidence in the future of the economy and government services.

– Provide certainty to legitimate interests as a lawful basis for data processing to ensure the right to conduct a business is balanced with the right to privacy.

– Take a principles-based, ethical approach to AI regulation.

– Give legal certainty to the recitals in GDPR to ensure the legislation is correctly interpreted by the Information Commissioner’s Office, lawyers and data protection officers.

– Maintain adequacy with the EU to ensure free flow of trade.

– Promote scientific research in academic and commercial settings.

– Enhance the role of the Department of Science, Innovation & Technology, making it faster to respond to the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology.

– Reform the organisation structure and governance of the ICO.

– Develop skills in data, AI and digital marketing that are essential to growth and productivity.

– Transfer responsibility for in career reskilling, lifelong learning and apprenticeships from the DfE to the Department for Business & Trade.

Combemale added: “Many of our members will be frustrated at the failure of the DPDI Bill to pass before the election, particularly given the extensive consultation on the Bill that took place with DMA members over the past three years.

“The DPDI Bill was an important evolution of the UK’s data protection framework and held a wide range of opportunities for our members. Whichever party wins the election, they should build on the general principles of DPDI which had received cross party support.”

In particular, the DMA is calling for the following general legislative amendments to be included in a new bill:

– Definition of direct marketing: Ensure definition of direct marketing in DPA 2018 is consistent across all UK data protection legislation, as follows: “The communication (by whatever means) of advertising or marketing material which is directed to particular individuals.”

– Lawful basis: Greater certainty for legitimate interests by ensuring “Recital 47” forms part of the main text of UK GDPR article 6.1.f and that Recital 4 is given legal certainty. Ensure that legitimate interest impact assessments reflect the economic benefits of the processing to customers, donors and organisations while mitigating harms to privacy.

– Soft opt-in for email extended to non-commercial organisations, enabling charities to communicate to donors in the same way as businesses.

– Cookies: Remove consent requirements for cookies and other identifiers which interrupt customer journeys and don’t achieve meaningful consent.

– Research provisions: provide greater clarity to enable scientific research in academic and commercial setting.

– ICO objectives and organisation: Change from corporation sole to a corporate body called the Information Commission. Chair and non-executive members appoint and scrutinise CEO and executive members. Ensure ICO follows the principles of Recital 4 by considering the desirability of promoting innovation and the desirability of promoting competition when reaching decisions.

– Industry Codes of Conduct in PECR: Build on co-regulation established in Articles 40 and 41 of GDPR by establishing Codes of Conduct and Industry Monitoring Bodies for GDPR.

– Accountability Framework: Reinforce the key principles of data protecting impact assessments, data protection officers and records of processing activity while creating exemptions for micro and small business not engaged in high-risk processing.

– Publicly available data sources: Establish certainty around the use of publicly available data sources such as the Open Electoral Register, Companies House Data and others.

Combemale concluded: “The DMA will continue to fight for the essential reforms in data protection legislation and skills that are important to our members, their customers, their teams, and the economy. We call on all political parties to adopt the DMA’s 10-point election manifesto in their own party manifestos.”

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