Govt urged to put brakes on radical data reform plans

parliament_2Both charity and public sector organisations have urged the Government to be more cautious about its plans to reform UK data protection laws, joining the Information Commissioner’s Office which claims that many of the measures go too far.

The Department for Media, Culture & Sport launched its consultation, entitled Data: A new direction in September, with the final deadline for submissions closing on Friday, November 19.

It is response, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has warned that not including direct marketing in the list of “legitimate interests” for fundraising could be detrimental to the sector.

Under the reforms, by citing “legitimate interests” organisations can use personal data without applying a balancing test in order to give them more confidence to process such data without the need for consent.

Examples include using audience measurement cookies or similar technologies to improve web pages and using personal data for internal research and development purposes, or business innovation purposes aimed at improving services for customers.

However, the Institute said: “We believe that without a specific inclusion of fundraising/direct marketing, the creation of a list would be detrimental to charity fundraising and the experience of people who support charities.”

It added that by including direct marketing, “charities are more reassured about being able to undertake direct marketing activity to provide insight and inform their supporter approach and for that communication to be best aligned to that individual’s interest and preferences, providing an enhanced experience and furthering relations between supporters and charities they give to”.

The CIOF also said there were a number of areas where data protection could be improved, including bringing clarity to “ongoing confusion and hesitancy” on being able to ask a supporter if they wanted to claim Gift Aid on a donation.

It also wants reassurance on reusing publicly available data such as information from Companies House for new purposes, and on the length of time charities should be able to keep supporter records.

Meanwhile, the National Data Guardian for health and social care has insisted there is a need for more evidence of the positives and negatives of changing the regulations relevant to care.

It points out that some of the proposals – such as amendments to research provisions, rules on automated decision making and changes to data subject rights – would represent a significant departure from EU data protection law, and could therefore affect the UK’s data adequacy arrangement with Brussels.

The organisation cites an example of clarifying rules of consent to support research, where consent is not the usual lawful basis, being outweighed by a loss of adequacy that would see UK research organisations having to implement standard contractual clauses to receive data from the EU in pan-European clinical trials and digital research projects.

The document states: “The NDG encourages the Government to provide further evidence to support the proposals in the consultation, so as to be clearer about both the nature and degree of the current problems that it is seeking to address, and thereby to ensure the balance is in favour for any proposed solutions against their potential risks.

“The Government should take an iterative approach and engage with key stakeholders within the heath and care system. This will help the Government to understand the issues that are of significant importance, and ensure any unintended consequences are avoided.”

The data-driven marketing industry trade body, the DMA, has yet to publish its response to the consultation.

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