Government to cut down on consent pop-ups as it responds to data reform consultation

Posted on: Friday 17 June 2022 | IAB UK

The Government has responded to its consultation regarding the Data Reform Bill, laying out what policies it plans to proceed with and the key themes that emerged from the responses it received to the consultation

Significantly, rules within the UK’s existing Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) will be updated to cut down on ‘user consent’ pop-ups and banners that people encounter when browsing the internet. By adopting a new opt-out model for cookies, the Government is aiming to heavily reduce the need for users to click through consent banners on every website they visit. 

Before the legislative changes are commenced, the Government will work with industry and the ICO to ensure technology is effective and readily available so people can set their online cookie preferences to opt out via automated means. This will help web users to retain choice and control over how their data is used. 

Additionally, the new Bill will increase fines for nuisance calls and texts and other serious data breaches under the PECR. The fines will increase from the current maximum of £500,000 and be brought in line with current UK GDPR penalties which are up to four per cent global turnover or £17.5 million, whichever is greater.

Reform of the ICO is also included within the scope of the Bill. The regulator will be modernised to have a chair, chief executive and a board to make sure it remains internationally renowned, while new objectives will give Parliament and the public better ability to hold the regulator to account. 

The new objectives will underline the importance of the regulator continuing to uphold data rights and encouraging the responsible use of personal data. Significantly, they will place greater emphasis on taking into account growth, innovation and competition. The reforms will introduce a new way for how the ICO develops statutory codes and guidance, which share best practices for organisations using, sharing or storing personal data in specific instances, such as protecting children’s data online.

The Government states that the data reforms will support its ambitions to strike new data partnerships with important economies and improve international data transfers. It states that the International Data Transfer Expert Council, made up of global experts on data “will play a major role in helping the UK unlock the benefits of free and secure cross-border data flows”.

The group - which combines world-leading academics, organisations such as the World Economic Forum and the Future of Privacy Forum alongside digital industry figures including Google, Mastercard and Microsoft - will be empowered to remove barriers to data flows and ensure services from smart devices to online banking can be provided more reliably, cheaply and securely. 

Commenting on the news, Christie Dennehy-Neil, IAB UK’s Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, said: “We welcome the news that the Government is moving away from a blanket consent model to a more risk-based approach that recognises that cookies can serve very different purposes. Cutting down on the amount of pop-ups people receive clearly stands to improve the online experience for users and the environment that digital ads are served in. Yet while we’re cautiously optimistic about the developments, more clarity is needed about the alternative proposals for an opt-out regime. While annoying, cookie consent pop-ups do still serve a valuable purpose and it’s crucial that what comes next is both conducive to the continuation of an ad funded internet and takes into account the changing nature of identifiers within the digital landscape.” 

 

Find out more about the scope of the Government’s planned changes here
 

Written by

IAB UK

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