No more cookie pop-ups: government wants post-Brexit GDPR overhaul


Be honest, do you really ever read a website’s cookie policy? (Getty)

Clicking through numerous cookie consent pop-ups just to browse the web may become a thing of the past.

The irritating banners were introduced as a means of complying with data protection laws following the passing of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.

However, in post-Brexit UK, things could be about to change.

The government has announced plans to reshape the UK’s data laws in an effort to boost growth and increase trade now we’re no longer part of the EU.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it hopes the measures, which include new data partnerships with the US and other countries, will get around existing trade barriers associated with data rules.

It also means diverging from parts of the GDPR which came into force in 2018.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the UK wanted to shape data laws that were based on ‘common sense, not box-ticking’.

Mr Dowden told the Daily Telegraph that many cookie requests were ‘pointless’.

And, be honest, how many times do you actually read the cookie policy before clicking ‘Accept’?

Cookies are small files that websites put on your computer to capture and keep hold of data. They improve targeted advertising and also keep track of things like items in a digital shopping basket.

‘Now that we have left the EU, I’m determined to seize the opportunity by developing a world-leading data policy that will deliver a Brexit dividend for individuals and businesses across the UK,’ Mr Dowden said.

‘That means seeking exciting new international data partnerships with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, for the benefit of British firms and British customers alike.

‘It means reforming our own data laws so that they’re based on common sense, not box-ticking.’

Mr Dowden said data rules reform was ‘one of the big prizes’ of leaving the EU and that data was the ‘oil’ that would power the 21st century when harnessed properly.

Endless cookie banners and pop-ups can take their toll (Getty)

He said some key parts of GDPR amounted to ‘needless bureaucracy’ and that instead the UK should be looking to protect privacy, but ‘in as light a touch way as possible’.

The main principles of GDPR are that businesses must have appropriate legal reasons for processing personal data and can only collect it for specific purposes.

But the government believes that in some areas this has created red tape which is stifling innovation.

In response to the announcement, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the UK’s data watchdog would help support the government’s plans, but encouraged the pursuit of trust and transparency.

‘Data-driven innovation stands to bring enormous benefits to the UK economy and to our society, but the digital opportunity before us today will only be realised where people continue to trust their data will be used fairly and transparently, both here in the UK and when shared overseas,’ she said.

‘My office has supported valuable innovation while encouraging public trust in data use, particularly during the pandemic. We stand ready to provide our expert advice and insight as part of any future Government consultation.’

Trevor J. Morgan, product manager at data protection firm Comforte said: ‘In a post-Brexit world, rethinking data adequacy agreements and adapting existing privacy laws to reflect the current political environment makes sense.

‘What cannot be lost in the shuffle is the impact that any changes will have on businesses and individuals.

‘Businesses are under scrutiny to comply with data privacy mandates, and any proposed changes mean time and money spent to research these changes and implement any operational alterations necessary to maintain compliance.

‘Hampering businesses is always a serious consideration for governments and something not done lightly considering the economic effects. On the consumer side, individuals want their rights to data privacy respected and maintained, with the ability to have a say in how their personal data is being collected, processed, and stored.

‘No matter what changes are in the air, this universal right must be respected and encouraged by evolving data privacy laws in the UK and between countries.’


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