Last week marked the sixth anniversary of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a landmark in data protection that revolutionised how personal data is handled across Europe. However, as many people reflect on GDPR’s impact, the future of data protection regulation in the UK hangs in the balance following the recent mothballing of the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill (DPDI).

The Demise of DPDI

The Government’s decision to exclude the DPDI from its “wash up” process, a fast-track mechanism for essential legislation before Parliament is dissolved, has led to significant uncertainty. Initially introduced in 2021, the DPDI aimed to modernise the UK’s data protection framework. However, it was still navigating the committee stage in the House of Lords when it met its downfall.

Industry observers largely attribute the Bill’s failure to the Government’s decision to introduce 240 amendments during the third reading in the House of Commons in November last year. These last-minute changes resulted in significant delays and ultimately led to the Bill’s demise. The question now is whether the next administration, regardless of its political orientation, will have the appetite to revive the Bill in its current form.

Future Scenarios

Should Rishi Sunak remain Prime Minister with a similar cabinet, it is likely that the DPDI would be swiftly resurrected. Sunak’s administration has shown a commitment to data protection reforms, and continuity in leadership could mean a quick return to the legislative agenda for the DPDI.

In contrast, if a Labour or Lib Dem government comes to power, an identical data protection bill might not be a priority. However, there is speculation that Labour might introduce a new digital bill in the autumn, which could include broader legislation on artificial intelligence (AI). This approach would signal a shift in focus from the specifics of the DPDI to a more comprehensive digital strategy.

The Digital Markets, Competition & Consumers Act 2024

Yet, amid the uncertainty surrounding the DPDI, there has been progress in other areas of digital regulation. Over the weekend, the Digital Markets, Competition & Consumers Act 2024 received Royal Assent. This new legislation aims to enhance consumer rights across the UK, providing greater control and clarity over online purchases.

Key provisions of the Act include:

  • Clearer Information: Businesses must provide clearer information to consumers before they enter a subscription contract.
  • Trial Periods: Companies are required to remind consumers when their free trial or low-cost trial is coming to an end.
  • Easy Exit: The Act ensures that consumers can easily exit a contract, promoting fairness in the digital marketplace.
  • Transparent Costs: Unavoidable hidden fees must be included in the initial cost or clearly illustrated at the start of the purchasing journey.

These measures are designed to ensure consumers are fully aware of what they are spending, promoting transparency and trust in online transactions.

Clearer information, transparent costs, and easy exits from contracts all rely on accurate and well-maintained data. Poor data hygiene can lead to misinformation, hidden costs, and frustrated consumers, undermining the very protections the Act seeks to enforce. Therefore, businesses must prioritise their data management to align with the new regulatory landscape and safeguard consumer rights effectively.


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