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Businesses need to do more to communicate their use of personal data, says Ward Hadaway

Businesses need to do more to let individuals know how their data is being collected and used, particularly when this involves collection through internet-connected devices, according to Ward Hadaway.

Gareth Yates, Commercial Partner and Head of the Technology team in Leeds

Gareth Yates, Commercial Partner and Head of the Technology team at Ward Hadaway in Leeds, spoke during a Global Digital Week event held recently at the University of Leeds on how technology impacts upon data protection laws.

“There is a challenge for businesses to communicate all their uses of individuals’ personal data in a manner that makes this easily understood. Many people will often “tick the box” without reading a privacy policy for example,” said Gareth.

He added: “Education for individuals is essential to ensure they understand how their data may be collected and used in the modern world.”

The panel-style debate discussed recent research from the University of Oxford that suggests that more than 40% of all jobs are likely to rely heavily on tech and digital in the future.

It brought together the brightest minds from across the region. Topics covered whether the public should be more responsible for ensuring protection of their data and digital footprint and whether further regulation was needed in the future to protect individuals’ rights.

Questions were raised as to whether the world’s tech giants were now simply too big for regulation to be effective and should they therefore be broken up in order to minimise their dominance.

Given the imminent arrival of GDPR, this topic featured heavily throughout the two-hour Q&A session.

Gareth added: “The panel felt that the principles-based approach of GDPR made it difficult for organisations to know if their approach to data protection compliance was right or wrong – perhaps only finding out after the event when the ICO steps in.

“However, the principles-based approach did appear to have its advantages as it potentially future-proofs GDPR by providing flexibility for the rules to be interpreted to accommodate future technological developments without additional laws needing to be passed.”

John Munn, co-founder and festival director of Global Digital Week, said: “This may have been the first year of Global Digital Week, but we have had some fantastic events with phenomenal speakers at our partner institutions across seven countries.

“The event in Leeds was no exception. Data protection is an incredibly important issue and the panel really showed their expertise by being able to not only provide some invaluable insights, but also make what is commonly seen as a dull topic incredibly interesting.

“The feedback we have received has been amazing and many have said they would love some more talks with the panel members to be organised. We look forward to working with Gareth Yates and the team at Ward Hadaway, as well as the other speakers, again in the future.”


Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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