DMA calls on UK parliament to push through data reform bill

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Technology experts have called on the UK government to accelerate efforts to push through the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill during the current parliament. 

Chris Combemale, CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) urged the government to bring forward the legislation as quickly as possible in the wake of the King’s speech on Tuesday 7 November. 

The DPDI bill will see the UK diverge from the EU’s GDPR legislation, which the government believes will boost the economy, encourage innovation, and reduce cumbersome red tape for businesses across the country. 

"The Bill will create an innovative and flexible data protection regime which maintains the UK’s high standards of data protection,” the government said previously. 

"At the same time, we will reduce burdens on businesses and researchers, and enable innovation in science, innovation and technology that advance the health and prosperity of society to the benefit of the British people."

Under the terms of the bill, only organizations whose processing activities are likely to pose high risks to individuals' rights and freedoms will need to have a data protection officer and conduct risk assessments. 

Customer data can be shared to provide services such as personalized market comparisons and account management, and more organizations will be exempt from the rules on consent to cookies.

Crucially, the definition of 'legitimate interest' will be clarified to include attracting and retaining customers.

The bill was first introduced in summer 2022, but was withdrawn in March this year to be replaced by a new version aimed at managing a delicate balance between reducing regulation and retaining the data adequacy deal the UK currently holds with the EU.  


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Combemale said momentum on pushing through the bill must be stepped up in order to ensure UK businesses can maximize the use of data and unlock economic benefits. 

"Data privacy reforms included within the DPDI Bill are key to unlocking business growth and realizing the full potential of the UK digital economy, by further enabling businesses to use customer insights to simultaneously improve the productivity of businesses and create relevance for customers," he said.

Combemale pointed to DMA research that shows two-thirds of UK-based SMBs are keen to see data privacy reform and the removal of needless red tape. 

Nearly half (43%) of survey respondents said their business growth has been stunted by GDPR since its introduction. 

Meanwhile, over three-quarters believe that the processing of personal data is vital to the growth and success of their business. 79% of respondents stated that greater certainty around the use of legitimate interest as a legal basis for direct marketing would make it easier to build customer bases.  

"There is strong support for these opportunities across the UK’s SME community, as demonstrated by our latest research, so we would urge the UK Parliament to complete passage without hesitation,”  Combemale said. 

The bill is now at the report stage and awaiting its third reading before progressing to the House of Lords.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.