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New laws to make data safer

Next year will see tougher data protection rules as to how businesses and public-sector organisations handle our digital info. In addition, there will be new rights enabling us to access our personal data at no cost.

Like me, you‘ve probably never heard of it but something called the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into our lives in May 2018.

In case you’re wondering, Brexit won’t make much difference. The UK will be implementing a new Data Protection Bill that includes all the main elements.

It’s not before time either. Protection standards within the corporate world are often sloppy with larger corporations sharing stuff between their subsidiaries and associates across the globe.

It’s no wonder that nearly every week brings fresh revelations of how personal data has been stolen.

Something like 200,000 people in the UK who thought their bank details were secure now find the info was shared with US credit monitoring firm Equifax. The company was hacked in May this year but its only now that news is leaking out.

Obtaining redress for this kind of thing is a hard slog down the compensation trail for any individual. What GDPR is intended to achieve is an enforceable regime which will ensure that outfits who process and control data do so a lot more responsibly.

Regulators are keen to describe the moves as “an evolutionary step change”. It’s a pretty big step though, according to industry experts. It’s also one that introduces punitive fines for those who transgress – regardless of size or sector.

Consumer bodies are understandably backing a move which will see Subject Access Charges (SACs) scrapped. These apply every time you check your personal information, usually at £10 a peek.

The scope of the new regulations will be rolled out soon. So we can expect scaremongering from consultants eager to help firms ‘prepare’ for the change.

My advice if you’re in business is to look out for seminars that local forums such as SA1 Waterfront Business Club will be hosting in the near future. They could save you money in more ways than one.

Playing catch-up on policy

It’s a popular to question the worth of the Welsh Assembly. Heck, even I’ve been known to ask about its day-to-day relevance on occasion.

One accusation levelled at the Senedd is that it has an over-developed ‘nanny complex’ but it has to be said that they lead where others follow.

Take smoking for example. The ban in pubs and restaurants came into effect some considerable time before it was adopted in England.

The same can be said of charging for plastic carrier bags. Condemned at first as a gimmick, the stats now speak for themselves – and not a household in the land is without a drawer or cupboard stuffed full of ‘spares’.

Now English local authorities are waking up to the desirability of food hygiene scores on the doors of establishments.

Have you noticed that whilst the London-based media like to portray what goes on in Wales as a bit backward, its often England that does the catching up? Funny, that.

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