Mastering Data Protection Compliance Amidst UK Reforms


The digital landscape is a relatively new concern when it comes to national businesses and international trade, despite the ubiquity of the internet and all its modern conveniences. With digital having rapidly become a central aspect to professional and private life, so too has the realm of data protection shifted focus. For the UK, though, things are a little more difficult still.

GDPR and DPA 2018

Up until the UK’s departure from the European Union, it was beholden to GDPR law, or General Data Protection Regulation. This regulatory framework set out clear strictures for the holding, usage and sharing of private, personal or otherwise confidential information by and between businesses and personnel. This EU regulation no longer applies, but the UK retains a form of it through the Data Protection Act 2018 – an interim act that incorporates much of the spirit of GDPR law, but which also presents the opportunity for redrafting.

Data Mapping and Inventory

A large part of compliance with UK data protection law is acknowledging and understanding the scope of information you hold as a business. Assessing and mapping out the data you hold organisationally enables to understand exactly where it is, how it is being handled and whether changes need to be made; without proper data inventory systems, the likelihood of data being misappropriated is rendered higher – and your business potentially non-compliant, to boot.

Data inventories can be automated, but without a proper understanding of the laws at hand these automations could be too heavy-handed, or even light-handed in their operation. Conference with data protection lawyers is important if only to understand the basics of your compliance obligations, but it can also be crucial to building an effective programme for data inventory and management.

Consent Management

Another considerable aspect to compliance comes in the form of consent management. In requesting personal information from another party, they must freely and specifically consent to the giving of said information; further, the consent needs to unambiguously refer to the data which is consented to be shared. Here, processes are a business’ friend. Pre-designed forms that automate consent requests make the legal harvesting of information simple – but this works both ways. Consent can be revoked, and data must hence be removed accordingly.

Data Security Measures & Data Breach Preparedness

Of course, data protection laws are about more than the litigation of consent. They are also there to enshrine the safety of kept information, to ensure that personal data cannot be used or misused by malicious actors. This makes data security a vital part of the equation for all businesses, let alone those that rely heavily on the harvesting of user information to provide their service.

Basic interactions with this requirement involve the encryption of data such as passwords, making it difficult for cyber-criminals to access information wrongly. The weak link, however, is not digital systems; it is people. Cybersecurity is more about training personnel than shoring up digital defences, as most data breaches come from phishing scams. As such, staff training is one of the most powerful methods for reducing the likelihood of a data breach.

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