Lawyer and prolific media commentator Steve Kuncewicz revisits the thorny issue of data just over a year on since the Data Protection Act came into effect
If there’s any acronym that engenders either a sight or a sense of abject panic in many of the meetings I’m attending these days, it’s GDPR. Actually, it’s not GDPR, it’s Data Protection and Privacy. I was very lucky early in my career to work with some of the best lawyers I’ve ever come across, including Peter Budd at Gateley and Susan Hall at Cobbetts (now Clarke Willmott). Peter and Susan specialised in Data Protection before it became either a punchline or an immediate business risk; although in their view and my own, it’s always been the latter. It’s been the best part of 16 months since the 25 May 2018, when the new Data Protection Act came into effect and brought the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation into UK law. Surely by now, we’d have seen the predicted raft of crippling fines issued by the ICO all across the UK for the most minor infraction, alongside a tidal wave of “class action” civil claims that could be “ruinous” to UK businesses?
If you’ve failed to notice them, it’s not because you haven’t been paying attention. Each and every one of us was, around May last year, drowning under the weight of an inbox full of e-mails from any number of senders who we may not even have realised had access to our personal data imploring us to either check our privacy settings or reply otherwise we’d never be able to hear from them again. The more cynical amongst you may note that this was, in fact, the best way to find yourselves unsubscribed from nuisance e-mail since… well, e-mail. Since then, although there have been some notable fines issued by regulators across the EU for serious privacy breaches and some very significant court decisions, it’s probably fair to say that most are suffering from various stages of “GDPR fatigue”. Even in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many businesses and individuals may well be more conscious of the power and consequence of the misuse of personal data and impact upon their lives, but the uneasy peace of the last 12 months is unlikely to last too much longer.
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