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The Data and Marketing Association (DMA) has lent its backing to proposed reforms of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to strike a better balance between the needs of consumers and businesses.

On Thursday, the Information Commissioner’s Office published its roadmap to reform the UK’s regulatory regimen for personal data protection, outlining a raft of reforms designed to drive economic recovery and enhance public trust in how their data is handled.

Measures include holding individual directors liable for nuisance calls and text messages emanating from companies under their charge and the launch of a consultation to mitigate against algorithmic bias, as befell Facebook in a sexist job advert row yesterday.

The changes have been made possible by Britain’s departure from the EU, an occasion the government believes offers an opportunity to pursue a data regime founded on “common sense, not box-ticking”.

DMA chief executive Chris Combemale said: “We strongly support the proposed approach of maintaining the key principles of GDPR while clarifying areas of confusion and simplifying onerous administrative burdens on businesses. 

“By maintaining the core framework of UK GDPR, with improvements, we hope that it will be possible for the UK to be the world’s most innovative economy while maintaining an equivalent or higher level of data protection.”

If implemented, the new rules will provide clarity around the use of personal data for research purposes, such as innovative machine learning technology developed by Moorfields Eye Hospital, which permitted thousands of historic depersonalized eye scans to be searched for signs of disease.

The reforms will also open the door to a sliding scale of compliance, with small businesses not placed under the same data protection processes as larger companies.

Key to this approach is the appointment of a panel of experts to the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), who have been tasked with devising new approaches to data and AI governance that better address the needs of the economy and individuals.

Last week, adtech execs weighed up the pros and cons of UK plans to diverge from GDPR.