The Government recently announced the Data Protection Bill (DPB) which will become law in May next year. The changes will bring post-Brexit UK into line with the EU’s GDPR.
Following the announcement, the Forum of Private Business is calling for a working group to consider the impact of the proposed data protection legislation on small businesses, as there are fears that a lack of clarity on the rules and a lack of resources to handle the changes will put them at risk.
Smaller businesses within the automotive industry such as independent repairers and vehicle retailers could find themselves at a disadvantage without a full understanding of the changes required.
The Forum’s four main concerns are:
- The legislation may be too complex for the average business owner without the resources of in-house compliance or external consultants. To date, inadequate guidance has been given by the Information Commissioner’s Office to help small businesses, and it appears there are areas of the Bill that are not clear and could be open to interpretation.
- Whilst the focus so far has been on how big businesses manage personal data, inadequate attention has been given to how the changes to the law will affect smaller businesses which also hold and use customer data.
- Small businesses today rely on digital communication with existing and prospective customers – in particular by email and telephone – and the prospect of getting the level of consent required and maintaining consent records could be difficult to manage.
- The cost to small and micro businesses of complying with regulations when compared with larger businesses is already disproportionate. The burden of possibly needing to employ new staff or train existing staff on compliance, or of buying online data management tools, might be too great for some.
Chief Executive of the Forum, Ian Cass, said: “Many people will welcome tighter controls on who owns their personal data and how it is used, and as such the intent of the GDPR legislation is fine, but it appears that no one in power has thought about the small and micro businesses that make up 98% of the UK’s 5.2 million businesses, account for more than half of the country’s employment and are the economic engine of the high street. There is the potential for this legislation to impact the way many of these businesses operate and market themselves, and even force them to close down.
“Matt Hancock’s comments in his press statement reassuring that “businesses will be protected” gives no comfort whatsoever whilst there is so much uncertainty about what will be allowed, and what actions will be heavily fined.”