The proposed Data Protection Bill (“new Bill”) will give people within the UK new rights to “require major social media platforms to delete information held about them at the age of 18” as stated in the Government’s Manifesto. Under the current Data Protection Act 1998, the right to erasure is restricted to circumstances where a complainant has suffered unwarranted and substantial damage or distress and therefore the new Bill is undoubtedly a significant step in enhancing the rights of young people with regard to information held about them by social media platforms.
So how do these new rights relate to Article 17 of the EU’s much anticipated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (also discussed here) which comes into force across Member States on 25th May 2018? The Government has stated that the new Bill will enable the UK to meet its “obligations while we remain an EU member state” and “put the UK in the best position to maintain our ability to share data with other EU member states and internationally after we leave the EU“. Although by no means a certainty, in view of the proposed ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which is intended to incorporate EU law into UK national law, it is possible that UK national legislation will continue to reflect the right to be forgotten and to erasure under Article 17 as long as the UK aspires to share data with other EU Member States post Brexit. However, the Government has yet to provide any detail on how the new Bill will be implemented and there is no guarantee that the right to erasure is here to stay. If this is the case, young people wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to edit their childhood social media presence and gain some control over their online identity may need to be prepared to act quickly.
For further information, please contact your client partner at Hunters or any partner in the Business Services Department.