Is the data protection landscape changing?
Whilst directing the award-winning films Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the last thing on Beeban Kidron’s mind was probably how the GDPR would affect her subsequent career. But now, having been appointed to the House of Lords, she has proposed a new bill that, if it becomes law, is likely to affect the data protection landscape for years to come.
Her proposed law states that if an individual’s data rights are infringed in any way, any organisation or body is entitled to bring a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office on that individual’s behalf even if the individual hasn’t given permission for the complaint, and potentially even without the individual’s knowledge. The organisation or body would also be entitled to receive compensation on the individual’s behalf.
The only conditions are that the organisation or body must:
- be a not-for-profit organisation or body,
- have statutory articles or objectives that are in the public interest, and
- be active in the field of protecting data rights.
With this in mind, it poses the question: “if an organisation or body is successful in making a complaint on an individual’s behalf, and that individual didn’t know or hadn’t given them authority, does that then stop the individual himself or herself from making their own claim?” Surely it must, otherwise there is a risk of the ‘offender’ having to pay out twice for the same offence. This is a potentially worrying encroachment on an individual’s right to take his or her own action.
Whilst the new law would apply to all individuals, it is specifically designed to assist individuals who are “less aware of their rights, less willing to identify themselves, children, elderly, LGBT+ persons, women in public positions, women at risk of domestic abuse and persons in strict religious communities”.
Having been read in the House of Lords at the end of January, the draft law is awaiting its second reading on an unconfirmed date. At this point, it will be debated by the peers in the House. It is not clear whether this draft law has the support to make its way into the House of Commons, or indeed, whether it has enough support in Government to make it onto the statute books. What is clear is that if this law is passed, the Information Commissioner’s Office will have an increased number of complaints to deal with.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.