On May 10, 2022, Prince Charles announced in the Queen’s Speech that the UK Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill (the “OSB”) will proceed through Parliament. The OSB is currently at committee stage in the House of Commons. Since it was first announced in December 2020, the OSB has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny on the balance it seeks to strike between online safety and protecting children on the one hand, and freedom of expression and privacy on the other.

Continue Reading Online Safety Bill to Proceed Through Parliament

In the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022, the UK Government set out its legislative programme for the months ahead. This includes: reforms to UK data protection laws (no details yet); confirmation that the government will strengthen cybersecurity obligations for connected products and make it easier for telecoms providers to improve the UK’s digital infrastructure; and new rules to enable the use of self-driving cars on public roads. In addition, the government confirmed its plans to move forward with the Online Safety Bill. As part of the government’s broader agenda to “level up” the UK and provide a post-Brexit economic dividend, many of the legislative initiatives referenced in the Queen’s Speech are presented as seeking to encourage greater use of data and technology to support innovation and enable growth.

We summarize below the key digital policy announcements in the Queen’s Speech and how they fit into wider developments in the UK’s regulatory landscape.

Continue Reading UK Privacy and Digital Policy & Legislative Roundup

On Episode 18 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan Cooper, Moritz Hüsch, Kristof van Quathem, and Petros Vinis discuss GDPR enforcement, and the evolution of regulatory fines since the GDPR was enacted in 2018.


Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast offers insights into topical global privacy issues and trends. Subscribe to our Inside

There have been many headlines today about the UK Government’s plans to reform UK data protection law. We are still reviewing the (near 150-page) consultation document, but set out below a dozen proposals that we thought might pique the interest of readers of our blog.
Continue Reading 12 Eye-Catching Proposals In The UK Government’s Plan To Reform UK Data Protection Law

On 2 September 2021, the transition year for the Children’s code (or Age Appropriate Design Code) published by the UK Information Commissioner (“ICO”) ended. The ICO’s Children’s code was first published in September 2020, with a 12-month transition period. In an accompanying blog, the ICO has stated that it will be “proactive in requiring social media platforms, video and music streaming sites and the gaming industry to tell [the ICO] how their services are designed in line with the code.”

Over the summer, the ICO has also approved two certification schemes under the UK GDPR. The certification schemes provide organizations with a mechanism to demonstrate their high level of commitment to data protection compliance.

Continue Reading UK ICO’s Children’s Code Transition Year Ends and ICO Approves Related Certification Schemes

On 26 August 2021, the UK Government unveiled a package of announcements which effectively set out its post-Brexit data strategy.

This blog looks at the politics around the costs and benefits of a Brexit divergence dividend in this sector, which the UK Government views as a key area of competitive advantage.
Continue Reading Data Divergence: A Brexit Dividend?

On August 11, 2021, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) opened a public consultation to solicit stakeholder input regarding the UK’s approach to regulating international transfers of personal data under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (“UK GDPR”) (see here).  To kick off this initiative, the ICO published a consultation paper setting out various policy options that the UK is considering, as well as:

  • a draft set of contractual templates to facilitate transfers of personal data outside the UK, including: (1) a draft international data transfer agreement (“IDTA”); and (2) a draft international transfer addendum to be appended to the recently approved EU standard contractual clauses (“EU Addendum”); and
  • a draft transfer impact assessment tool designed to help controllers and processors transferring personal data under the UK GDPR satisfy the requirements articulated by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the Schrems II decision (see here).

The ICO has requested that interested stakeholders submit their feedback by no later than October 7, 2021.  In this blog post, we summarize these documents and tools, and identify topics that interested stakeholders may want to address when preparing their submission to the public consultation.

Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner’s Office Opens Public Consultation on Policy Proposals and Documentation for International Transfers

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programs across the EU and the UK, employers are faced with questions about whether or not they are legally permitted to ask employees about their vaccination status and, if so, how that information may be used.

Employers may wish to inquire about the vaccination status of their employees in order to comply with their general obligation to ensure a safe workplace and minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  This raises privacy issues under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), because employees’ vaccination status falls within a special category of personal data that concerns the health of individuals (Art. 9(1)).  This category is subject to more stringent data protection measures due to the sensitive and personal nature of data, and can only be processed in very limited circumstances (Art. 9(2)).

Continue Reading COVID-19: Processing of Vaccination Data by Employers in Europe

In this blog post, we look at a recent decision by the UK Court of Appeal and a separate prosecution brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”; the UK data protection authority), which together serve as a cautionary tale for employees and prospective future employers of the risks of civil liability and criminal conviction for confidential information and data theft.

Clear contractual terms and policies, supplemented by training, remain critical tools for employers seeking to deter employees from misappropriating corporate information.  Employers may wish to make use of these examples to underscore the importance of compliance.

Continue Reading Employee Confidentiality and Data Theft: Recent UK Developments

On January 6, 2021, the UK’s AI Council (an independent government advisory body) published its AI Roadmap (“Roadmap”). In addition to calling for a  Public Interest Data Bill to ‘protect against automation and collective harms’, the Roadmap acknowledges the need to counteract public suspicion of AI and makes 16 recommendations, based on three main pillars, to guide the UK Government’s AI strategy.

Continue Reading AI Update: The Future of AI Policy in the UK