Crackdown on nuisance calls and pop-up cookies unveiled - with offenders to face tougher fines

·2-min read

Firms making nuisance calls and texts will face tougher fines under new data law proposals being published by the government.

The penalties are set to rise from the current maximum of £500,000 to either 4% of global turnover or £17.5m, whichever is greater.

Plans for the Data Reform Bill also include the aim of reducing the number of pop-up cookie banners on websites, with ministers proposing introducing opt-out systems.

This would allow internet users to set cover-all date permissions in their web browser settings, removing the need to consent to cookies on every site visited.

The proposals come as part of an official response to a consultation on reforming data laws in the UK.

The government says the Data Reform Bill will make the country's data laws fit for the digital age by cutting back on data protection "red tape".

The bill will also remove the requirement for smaller businesses to have a data protection officer or to carry out impact assessments where the data risk is low.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the proposals show the UK taking advantage of having left the European Union.

"Today is an important step in cementing post-Brexit Britain's position as a science and tech superpower," she said.

"Our new Data Reform Bill will make it easier for businesses and researchers to unlock the power of data to grow the economy and improve society, but retains our global gold standard for data protection."

"Outside of the EU we can ensure people can control their personal data, while preventing businesses, researchers and civil society from being held back by a lack of clarity and cumbersome EU legislation."

Ms Dorries will also be given new powers to approve Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) statutory codes and guidance under a proposed restructuring of the ICO.

Information Commissioner John Edwards said he supports the "ambition of these reforms".

"I am pleased to see the government has taken our concerns about independence on board," he said.

"Data protection law needs to give people confidence to share their information to use the products and services that power our economy and society.

"The proposed changes will ensure my office can continue to operate as a trusted, fair and impartial regulator, and enable us to be more flexible and target our action in response to the greatest harms."

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