The ICO has announced plans to replace its existing employment practices guidance with a more user-friendly online resource. The new resource will be divided into specific topics such as recruitment and selection, employment records, monitoring of workers, and information about workers’ health.

In particular, the new guidance aims to:

  • Address the changes in data protection law,
  • Reflect the changes in the way that employers use technology and interact with staff, and
  • Meet the needs of people using the ICO’s guidance products.

To this end, the ICO has launched a public consultation to gather views on these and related subject areas.

The consultation

The ICO has prepared a survey for completion by those wishing to take part in the consultation. Contributions may be submitted by responding to an online survey or by completing and returning a word document by email or post.

The deadline for responding is midnight on Thursday 21 October 2021.

Continue Reading The UK’s ICO launches public consultation on employment practices

In our previous post here we discussed the ICO’s announcement that it is working on new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) to facilitate transfers of personal data outside the UK. The new UK SCCs will be known as the UK’s International Data Transfer Agreement (IDTA).

The ICO has now launched the public consultation on its IDTA and accompanying guidance (available here). The consultation is open for feedback until 5pm on 7 October 2021.

Purpose of the IDTA

The IDTA will replace the current UK SCCs. The ICO has already made it clear that any transfers to third countries will need to take into account the Schrems II decision and apply supplementary measures, where required. The IDTA is a contract which organisations will be able to use when making a ‘restricted transfer’. The ICO is also consulting on how to define a ‘restricted transfer’ in light of the UK GDPR. In particular, the ICO is consulting on whether to keep its current guidance that says a restricted transfer only takes place where the importer’s processing of the personal data is not subject to UK GDPR. Recognising the complexity of international transfers for businesses, the ICO Executive Director of Regulatory Strategy, Steve Wood, has said that the new guidance is designed to be accessible and to support the full range of organisations, from SMEs to multi-national companies.

Continue Reading The UK’s ICO launches public consultation on new Standard Contractual Clauses

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many more organisations have moved their business operations online.  From a cybersecurity and privacy perspective, this brings hackers and criminals greater opportunities to try to infiltrate the increased amount of devices and even deploy ransomware attacks. This is where malware is installed to block access to the user’s data by locking the computer or encrypting the data until the demanded ransom is paid. In some cases, the attackers also threaten to disclose the stolen data if the ransom is not paid.

Ransom attacks are on the rise, with the ICO reporting an increase from 13 ransomware incidents per month to 42 at its 2021 conference. In the U.S., the recent Kaseya ransomware attack affected nearly 200 companies, while the recent pipeline attack disrupted fuel supplies to the East Coast for several days, leading to fuel shortages.

According to a global survey conducted by Sophos, the average total cost of recovery from a ransomware attack has more than doubled, increasing from $761,106 in 2020 to $1.85 million in 2021. These remediation costs include business downtime, lost orders and operational costs. The average ransom paid is $170,404, yet only 8 per cent of organisations managed to recover all of their data after paying a ransom.

In 2020 and so far this year in 2021, the manufacturing, government, education, services and healthcare industries have been particularly hard hit by ransomware attacks. However, no industry is immune from such attacks and ransomware attacks are featured across all industries, including utilities, technology, logistics, transportation, finance and retail.

Continue Reading Ransomware is on the rise – what to do if you are faced with a cyber attack

On the 28th June 2021, the European Commission (Commission) adopted two adequacy decisions for the UK; one covering the GDPR and the other the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). Such decisions demonstrate that the Commission believes the UK ensures an ‘essentially equivalent’ level of protection to that within the EU. The implication of these decisions is that personal data can now flow freely from the EU to the UK, effective immediately.

Background

On the 19th February, the Commission published two draft adequacy decisions and launched the procedure for their adoption, which we previously wrote about here. Since then, the Commission has carefully assessed the UK’s laws and practices on personal data protection, including access to data by public authorities in the UK. The European Data Protection Board gave its opinion on the draft decisions in support of the Commission’s findings, which we also blogged about here, before finally receiving the ‘green light’ from the EU Member states’ representatives.

The Commission’s 93-page GDPR decision assesses the legal framework for the UK in detail even referencing laws such as the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, and states ‘As the UK GDPR is based on EU legislation, the data protection rules in the United Kingdom in many aspects closely mirror the corresponding rules applicable within the European Union.’ They conclude  that ‘the Commission considers that the UK GDPR and the DPA 2018 ensure a level of protection for personal data transferred from the European Union that is essentially equivalent to the one guaranteed by Regulation (EU) 2016/679.’

Continue Reading UK adequacy decision for European data transfers

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25 May 2018. It became one of the leading pieces of legislation in the world to offer the highest levels of protection to the personal data of individuals. Many countries followed suit to raise the bar in how organisations handle personal data. The trend

What is new?

During the ICO’s Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference 2021 today, the ICO revealed that it is working on new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) to facilitate transfers of personal data outside the UK. The ICO’s consultation on the new UK SCCs will take place this summer. This is a separate process to the new SCCs that are currently being finalised by the European Commission. These new EU SCCs will not be valid for use for restricted transfers of data outside the UK.

Why is this change taking place?

From 31 December 2020 organisations in the UK have been relying on existing SCCs (Decisions 2001/497/EC and 2010/87/EU) for transfers of data outside the UK except where such territories are recognised as adequate (e.g. countries in the EU, the EEA, and those that obtained the EU Commission’s adequacy decision). However, the existing SCCs will be repealed when the new EU SCCs come into play. Therefore, the ICO is taking measures to put in place new international transfer mechanisms for restricted transfers outside the UK.

Continue Reading ICO announces it is working on bespoke UK set of Standard Contractual Clauses

On the 14th of April 2021, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted two opinions on the European Commission’s draft adequacy decision for the transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK.

The EDPB assessed the alignment of the UK Data Protection Act to the GDPR and to the Law Enforcement Directive, and noted ‘strong alignment’ on key areas between the EU and UK data protection regimes such as lawful and fair processing for legitimate purposes, purpose limitation, data quality and proportionality, data retention, transparency and special categories of data, to name a few.

Continue Reading European Data Protection Board opines on UK draft adequacy decision

The European Commission published a draft decision on UK adequacy for transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK, which you can read here. This EC conducted an assessment of the UK’s GDPR framework under the UK Data Protection Act 2018, including data protection rules applicable to UK law enforcement and national security and surveillance. It concludes that the UK ensures an ‘essentially equivalent’ level of protection to that within the EU, under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED), meaning data transfers can flow from the EU to the UK without further safeguards.

Continue Reading Data flows to the UK from the EU won’t hit a dam

The UK’s supervisory authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), published a new data sharing code of practice (Code), available here, which addresses the requirements for data sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018).

Once approved by Parliament, the Code will become a statutory code of practice. Thereafter, the Code will be used by the ICO when assessing whether organisations have complied with their data protection obligations when sharing personal data. The Code applies to the sharing of personal data between controllers, as well as giving access to personal data to third parties. It does not, however, apply to data sharing with a processor, nor the disclosure of data within an organisation.

The Code contains practical guidance for controllers on how they can share data fairly and lawfully and how they can meet their accountability obligations under the GDPR and the DPA 2018. It also addresses misconceptions regarding data sharing, such as clarifying that data protection laws do not prevent data sharing (as long as the sharing is lawful, fair and proportionate) and that most data sharing does not rely on consent as the lawful basis.
Continue Reading The ICO publishes a new data sharing code of practice

After a long period of negotiation, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) have reached a deal on the sharing of personal data, only a few days before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The agreed trade deal allows for the continued free flow of personal data from the EU to the UK for a maximum of six months after the transition period expires. During that time, the UK hopes that the European Commission will issue an adequacy decision in relation to the UK, thus allowing the free flow of personal data to continue beyond the six months. In relation to transfers of personal data outside the UK, the UK has already deemed adequate the 30 EU/European Economic Area countries and the 12 countries that have received EU adequacy decisions, as mentioned in our previous blog post (available here).

Continue Reading EU-UK data flows following the Brexit transition period