Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner lead a debate in Parliament today on the future of data protection in the UK, and called upon the Government to strengthen citizens’ rights over the use of their personal data.

The Data Protection Act 1998 was passed in the UK after a European Commission Directive in 1995, and the European Parliament agreed to reform data protection rules several years ago. The new General Data Protection Regulation aims to strengthen consumer rights and give citizens more control over their own private information and will apply to all EU Member States from 25 May 2018.

The UK Government has said the GDPR will still apply to the UK in 2018, but have not said what will happen after we leave the EU. The Government could have the power to substantially weaken data protection at that time. But research shows that 9 out of 10 large organisations have suffered data breaches and are under no obligation to report such incidents.

Data protection is also vital for the UK’s economy. Many businesses and services operate across borders, and half of all global trade in services depend on access to cross-border data flows. If we want to continue to trade in technology and financial services on equal terms with Europe, our data protection laws must be at least equivalent to EU rules.

Daniel Zeichner MP said: Whatever our future relationship with Europe, it is clear that information must be able to flow freely if we want to remain part of a global digital economy. I’m calling on the Government, during their Brexit negotiations, to recognise the strategic value of data as well as the implications it has for privacy. The rapidly shifting data landscape means exciting opportunities for innovative businesses, but it is essential legislation keeps pace if want to protect citizens’ rights while also tapping into the economic potential data offers.”

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