Privacy group slams ‘bonfire of rights’ in data reforms

data_adtech1The Government’s data protection reforms will not only strip UK consumers of most of their privacy rights, they will create a jungle where big tech and rogue businesses will be free to harass everyone in the name of growth and innovation.

That is the damning view of privacy organisation Open Rights Group, which claims that many of the reforms are being driven by corporate lobbying from the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, insisting it will fight the plans “tooth and nail”.

In a blogpost following the publication of the “Data: A new direction” consultation paper, the organisation states: “Behind the fig leaf of ‘tougher penalties and fines for nuisance calls and text messages’, the UK Government has put forward a deregulating approach that would enable data uses based on commercial viability, with little regard of the externalities and resulting harms for UK residents.

“The UK Government will also try to game the EU adequacy system and allow international transfers of EU data to third countries with lower data protection standards, in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage against EU Member States.

“This proposal marks a quite fundamental departure from the principles, enshrined in the data protection frameworks of the EU and the Council of Europe, that innovation and the use of personal data should be centred on human rights and designed to serve mankind.

“If implemented, it is also likely to undermine the already weak UK adequacy decision — an outcome that would harm local businesses and damage UK aspirations to become an international standard-setter in this field.”

ORG goes on to claim that corporate lobbyists “were holding Government’s hand during this announcement”, citing the press release which included comments from the Centre for Information and Policy leadership, “whose members include Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and a long list of IT behemoths, and TechUK, a trade association that also represents the interests of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, together with a long list of tech businesses”.

The organisation also takes exception to plans to relax how businesses can process data under “legitimate interests”, arguing that the “new rules will allow unprecedented freedom to share and reuse your data. Insurers, landlords, employers, the police, anyone will be able to collect and use your information for their own self-interests.”

And, ORG argues, reintroducing charges for data subject access requests (DSARs), “will have a clear chilling effect and represents an hypocrite attempt to curb scrutiny and accountability, to the detriment of law-abiding businesses and organisations”.

The organisation concludes: “The UK Government is proposing a bonfire of information rights that will open the floodgates to weaponising personal data against British residents.

“The UK is presenting a grand vision for a hostile digital environment: a jungle where big tech and rogue businesses will be free to harass you in the name of growth and innovation. Open Rights Group will be fighting tooth and nail against this disgraceful proposal.”

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