UK Ushers in a New Era of Data Protection with the Digital Information Bill 2.0

With a focus on balancing economic growth and privacy, the Data Protection Bill 2.0 addresses the challenges of GDPR, streamlines compliance for SMEs, and reshapes the landscape for marketers and AI innovation. Dive into the key takeaways of this legislation that promises to redefine the UK’s digital economy and global trade dynamics.

23rd November 2023

Introduction to the Modern Marketing Mix

Data is a valuable yet challenging asset to control. In the wake of Brexit, the UK is re-engineering its legislation with the introduction of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2.0. This new Bill promises to not only provide clarity on how scientists can process personal data to improve the lives of people across the country, but also reshape the current bureaucratic landscape, cutting down estimated costs for businesses and charities by an expected £4.7 billion over the next ten years. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 73% of UK SMEs believe processing personal data is integral to their growth strategy, reflecting the Bill’s importance for business innovation.

The present-day data laws, largely inherited from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are often seen as a double-edged sword. While they protect personal information, they have been heavily criticised for hampering scientific research and burdening small businesses with hefty compliance costs. Nearly half (48%) of SMEs expressed concern that GDPR introduced unnecessary bureaucracy, and over a third (37%) say it doesn’t work well for small businesses. The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2.0 addresses these challenges by finding a middle ground between data privacy and economic pragmatism.  The DMA further finds that nearly two-thirds (66%) of SME decision-makers support updating UK data and digital regulation, indicating a strong desire for modernisation in line with economic needs. This adjustment demonstrates the UK’s dedication to promoting growth in digital trade and enhancing its stature in the global digital economy. For marketers, the ability to harness consumer data more effectively whilst ensuring compliance is essential.

Rethinking Data Legislation

The existing European version of GDPR takes a highly prescriptive, top-down approach to data protection regulation. This is often criticised for limiting organisations’ flexibility to manage risks and places disproportionate burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Other areas where SME demands of data law are in line with DPDI include:

•  76% want data protection regulations to make it easier for them to talk to customers
•  75% would like future data laws to enable them to easily prospect for new business
•  81% say future regulation should be easy to understand

Ministers have sought to streamline the Bill, reducing the paperwork for organisations to show compliance, meaning that only organisations whose processing activities are likely to pose high risks to individual’s rights and freedoms will need to keep processing records. This change reflects the necessity of data-driven trade, which remarkably contributes to 85 percent of the UK’s service exports and has infused approximately £259 billion into the national economy as of 2021. The Information Commissioner, John Edwards, champions the Bill, asserting that it will allow organisations to both innovate and maintain robust data protection standards – a key to bolstering economic growth while safeguarding data rights. He declares:

“I welcome the reintroduction of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and support its ambition to enable organisations to grow and innovate whilst maintaining high standards of data protection rights. Data protection law needs to give people confidence to share their information to use the products and services that power our economy and society. The Bill will ensure my office can continue to operate as a trusted, fair and independent regulator. We look forward to continuing to work constructively with the Government to monitor how these reforms are expressed in the Bill as it continues its journey through Parliament.”

The Information Commissioner, John Edwards

Making AI a Force for Good

The Bill emerges at a pivotal moment, with artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly shaping key decisions in various sectors. It aims to address SMEs’ concerns by giving clarity to data processing, particularly surrounding legitimate interests. It fosters trust in AI technologies by mandating transparency and accountability in automated decision-making. This aligns with the finding that 76% of SMEs believe regulation of AI could increase consumer confidence, indicating a growing recognition of the need for ethical frameworks in AI development. Hence why central to the Bill is the provision that businesses can confidently integrate AI while safeguarding individuals’ entitlement to human oversight:

 “If a person is denied a job or a loan because an automated decision has been taken without meaningful human input, they can challenge that decision and request a human to review the outcome instead.”

This clause enshrines the right for individuals to be informed of, and to contest, decisions made by machines, particularly when such decisions may be erroneous or harmful. Innovative technologies like AI and Quantum computing have the potential to create widespread benefits to society, such as improving the delivery of healthcare services and reducing the risk of fraud. However, these technologies often make important decisions without human involvement, such as their abilities or behaviours. The legislation acknowledges that such technological advances must operate with transparency and under the provision of human oversight. With the UK Government keen to lead global discussions on introducing ‘guardrails’ for AI, industry must be careful not to stymie the opportunities that the technology could provide.

“An ethical framework founded on core values such as accountability, responsible innovation and transparency is critical for AI’s development to ensure it remains a force for good. The human-AI team is our best future, with AI operating as a tool that humans use to assist and enhance our own abilities”.

Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the DMA

Redefining Scientific Research

The Bill broadens the definition of ‘scientific research’, easing the divide between academic and industrial sectors. It aims to foster a collaborative environment for knowledge exchange, allowing diverse entities to contribute to and derive benefits from scientific progress. This is part of a strategic effort to ease the path from conceptual innovation to real-world application, in line with the UK’s ambition to nurture a dynamic and progressive research culture. It also seeks to enhance the UK’s stature in the global digital economy by simplifying the processes for international data sharing—critical for growing digital trade and fostering cross-border partnerships. This means that UK-based companies that offer international services, like GPS navigation, smart home solutions, and streaming platforms, can continue their overseas operations smoothly, provided they adhere to the UK’s data protection protocols.

Industry Feedback

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology

On the bill’s aims, Michelle Donelan said: “Co-designed with business from the start, this new Bill ensures that a vitally important data protection regime is tailored to the UK’s own needs and our customs.” She positions the Bill as a post-Brexit strategy to reduce European GDPR complexities, “Our system will be easier to understand, easier to comply with, and take advantage of the many opportunities of post-Brexit Britain.”

TechUK, represented by Julian David, CEO

Julian David of TechUK highlighted the positive aspects of the proposed reforms: “TechUK welcomes the new, targeted package of reforms to the UK’s data protection laws, which builds on ambitions to bring organisations clarity and flexibility when using personal data.” David emphasises the global standard the Bill seeks to maintain, “…while retaining levels of data protection in line with the highest global standards, including data adequacy with the EU.”

Chris Combemale, Chair of the DPDI Business Advisory Group and CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK)

In conversation with the IPM, Chris Combemale emphasises that “Reforms within the DPDI Bill will create a better balance between innovation and privacy, maintaining GDPR’s high levels of data protection while enabling scientific and technological innovation that will power the future economy.” He urges UK Parliament to complete passage “without hesitation”. The DMA has collaborated with the government throughout the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI)’s development to champion the best interests of both businesses and their customers.

Impact on Promotional Marketing

The new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2.0 is set to have a notable impact on the field of promotional marketing. The legislation redefines the landscape for marketers who rely heavily on consumer data to tailor and target their campaigns. Under the new Bill, marketers will be expected to navigate revised guidelines for consent and data processing, ensuring that personal data is used in a manner that is both respectful of privacy and efficient for business needs. Interestingly, the DMA found that consumer attitudes are evolving, with 59% believing brands use data responsibly for marketing, yet 47% would ignore brands that don’t respect their preferences, highlighting the importance of maintaining consumer trust.

Importantly, the Bill also affects the use of data post-promotion. Promoters are required to hold data to contact winners and fulfil prizes, typically for a period of three months after the promotion ends. The new Bill may help reduce the administrative burden and simplify this process for promoters. By streamlining consent mechanisms and reducing some of the GDPR’s stringent conditions, promotional activities could become more agile, enabling marketers to launch campaigns more quickly. The Bill envisions a future where data can be utilised more fluidly across borders, which is particularly beneficial for global marketing campaigns.


The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2.0 is the UK’s ambitious stride towards reshaping its digital future. It offers a vision of regulatory reform that endeavours to balance the imperatives of economic growth with the necessity of data protection. While many decision-makers at SMEs see implementing GDPR as a hindrance, that doesn’t mean they all disagree with the sentiment that investment and innovation must be balanced with customer protections. By tackling the critical issues of compliance complexity, scientific research limitations, and international data-sharing challenges, the Bill paves the way for a more dynamic, innovative, and privacy-conscious digital economy. Marketers could gain more agility in promotional activities, with simplified consent mechanisms and a recalibrated approach to data processing. This is crucial for promotional strategies that depend on consumer data to personalise and target campaigns effectively. However, AI evolves at an exponential rate, and legislation must be agile enough to keep pace with technological advances while protecting citizens’ rights without stifling innovation. What’s more, the divergence from the EU GDPR will require businesses operating across borders to manage dual compliance, potentially increasing the complexity of operations for those that trade with EU countries.

As the Bill progresses through Parliament, it will continue to be debated, refined, and ultimately shaped into the final legislation that will guide the UK’s approach to data protection in the post-Brexit era. The outcome of this process will be keenly watched by businesses, researchers, privacy advocates, and international partners alike, as it promises to set a new standard for data governance in a world where data is the most valuable currency.