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Right To Be Forgotten: New UK data protection law changes explained

Right to be forgotten laws: All you need to know about the proposed changes to UK data protection laws.

The UK government has proposed changes to data protection laws that will see Britons gain more control over their personal information.

Most significantly, the laws give people the right to ask for information posted online in the past, especially when they were children, to be removed from online platforms.

Here’s all you need to know about the ‘right to be forgotten’ laws and the proposed changes in general:

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Right to be forgotten UK: What are the proposed changes?

The changes to the law are outlined in a bill which, if passed, will put more pressure on organisations and companies to ensure data is kept secure, as well as requiring them to delete online information on request.

Companies that don’t keep data secure will be hit with large fines should they suffer any data breach or loss of information. While the current maximum fine for a data breach is £500,000, under the new proposals, fines can be up to £17 million, or 4% of global turnover.


The proposed changes would see the following measures enacted:

  • Making it easier for people to withdraw consent for their personal data to be used
  • Allowing people to ask for data to be deleted
  • Firms will be required to gain “explicit” consent when processing sensitive personal data
  • Parents will be able to give consent for their child’s data to be used
  • Personal data will be expanded to include IP addresses, DNA, and small text files or ‘cookies’
  • People will be able to obtain information held by organisations about themselves more easily
  • New criminal offences will be created to discourage firms from making it easy to identify someone from anonymised data

Right to be forgotten UK: How has the ‘right to be forgotten’ changed?

The most significant change for most will be the new ability to ask for old posts to be deleted from online platforms.

Currently, ‘right to be forgotten’ rules apply to search engines and require those search engines to remove information on specific people from search results if requested.

  The bill will be introduced to Parliament in September

Should the new bill pass, people will also be able to ask any online platform to remove old posts or information, as well as being able to ask companies to delete any information they hold on them, such as their name or DNA data.

Significant though the proposed changes are, companies still have the right to refuse to delete something on the grounds of freedom of expression, or if the information in question is of scientific or historical importance.

Right to be forgotten UK: When will the changes come into effect?

The new Data Protection bill, was originally announced in the Queen’s Speech, and is yet to be passed by Parliament. That means it’s not quite law yet. The bill will be introduced in September when the summer break ends and MPs and peers return to Parliament. Expect some backlash from companies in the meantime.

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