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Monday, August 07, 2017

Assuming control of our personal data

The irony has not escaped me that a new law being proposed by the UK Government to give people sweeping new powers to see what tech companies know about them and have it deleted is being brought in to mirror provisions already in existence in EU law. As ever the UK Government relies on the EU for its more liberal legislation.

The Independent says that the Data Protection Bill will make it far more easy for people to find out how companies are using their personal details, including their browsing history and even their DNA. And once they've seen it, it will also greatly increase the "right to be forgotten" – allowing people to make those companies delete that most personal of information.

They add that the bill is intended partly to allow people to escape from their internet history when they become an adult, since companies like Facebook and Google will have to scrub everything that they posted when they were a child:

As well as giving people far more power in how their information is handled, it will also make companies be more up front about how it is collected. Companies won't be able to trick their customers by using pre-selected tick boxes that opt into tracking, for instance, and people will instead have to give their explicit consent.

The legislation will:
The legislation will bring the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into domestic law, helping Britain prepare for Brexit because it will mean the systems are aligned when the UK leaves the bloc.

The Information Commissioner's Office will be given significantly tougher powers, with the maximum fine it can levy being increased from £0.5m to £17 million, or 4% of a firm's global turnover.

We will need to see the details once the bill is published but in principle it seems like an important step forward.
It worries me that the multi-national search engine companies are applying the law very generously to applicants. It seems that any link to no more than a slightly embarrassing reference is deleted. This may mean that con-artists are able to whitewash their previous careers.

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