UK plans clampdown on nuisance calls in data overhaul

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RJ45 cables are pictured inside the data centre operated by French telecoms operator Iliad in Paris, France, March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

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LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Britain said it would overhaul its data protection regulator to help strengthen economic growth and better protect the public, giving authorities scope to impose tougher penalties and fines for nuisance calls and text messages.

The changes to the remit of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) follow the selection of New Zealand Privacy Commissioner John Edwards as the preferred candidate to be Britain's new information commissioner, the government said.

Britain said last month it would reform data protection following its departure from the European Union, taking what it termed a "common sense" approach that could help it strike technological partnerships with the United States and other countries. read more

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The shift in strategy, however, is being watched closely by the EU, which has recognised Britain's existing data protection standards as complying with its own.

The consultation will set out plans for tougher penalties and fines for nuisance calls and text messages, overseen by the ICO, the government said.

It will also examine what more can be done to mitigate algorithmic bias - a term for the unintended consequences of automated decision making - the government said.

One example cited that could be deemed unfair was insurers predicting someone's fitness levels from their purchasing habits, it said.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "These reforms will keep people's data safe and secure, while ushering in a new golden age of growth and innovation right across the UK, as we build back better from the pandemic."

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Reporting by Paul Sandle, Editing by William Maclean

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