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This article was published on August 26, 2021

An end to constant cookie warnings? UK plans post-Brexit overhaul of data laws

The changes will need to comply with EU adequacy rulings

An end to constant cookie warnings? UK plans post-Brexit overhaul of data laws

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Brexit may be causing food shortages, export pains, and economic damage, but the UK could reap one big benefit from leaving the EU: an end to constant cookie warnings.

The country has unveiled plans to overhaul its privacy rules while maintaining an alignment with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden told The Telegraph that the changes would get rid of “endless” cookie pop-ups, which websites use to comply with EU laws.

The EU says the banners help protect privacy rights, but the notifications feel pretty pointless when almost no one reads them.

Dowden said the plan is to only require banners on “high risk” sites:

There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box-ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible.

The reforms will be overseen by a new head of the country’s data regulator. The government has named New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, John Edwards, as its preferred candidate for the role.

Killing cookie warnings

In a press release, Dowden said he was “determined” to develop a data policy that will “deliver a Brexit dividend” for people and businesses in the UK.

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. 

His plan to banish irksome cookie warnings is certainly attractive, but the new rules will need to be accepted by the EU. If they’re not, data transfers between the bloc and the UK could be thrown into chaos.

Brussels recently ruled that British data protection rules are “adequate.” But it added that the decision could be revoked “immediately” if the UK’s standards weaken.

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