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Don't just pass rules, enforce them

People in the UK are getting the right to force social media companies and online traders to delete their personal data under news laws that will be brought forward over the summer.

According to the minister for digital, Matt Hancock, these changes will amount to a "right to be forgotten". Companies will no longer have unlimited access to people's data and while this government proposal initially targeted social media, these new regulations have now been extended to include companies using personal data.

The new regulations are intended to replace the current Data Protection Act and bring it into line with the EU's data protection regulations, so that data will still be able to continue to flow across the EU, unhindered.

The importance of guarding an individual's data has been underlined by events across the North Sea in Sweden where confidential data from a number of national agencies was leaked and cost two ministers their jobs.

The leaks of data occurred following a data outsourcing contract and were know by several ministers; those very same ministers had signed the agreement despite aspects being in breach of existing privacy and data protection laws.

Rules and regulations are vital if people are to have confidence in how their data is managed - but just as crucially, those responsible for managing and implementing those rules need to be up to scratch.

As we've seen in Sweden, many institutions lack the expertise to handle IT security adequately and they should be subject to much stricter reporting requirements when it comes to handling an individual's data.

Neil Tyler

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