Law Society calls for international standards on data collection by private firms

Governments and organisations which collect people’s data should work together to create good practice standards for managing personal data, according to the Law Society of Scotland. 

In its response to a UK Parliament inquiry into whether new safeguards are required to regulate the use of personal data by private companies, the professional body for Scottish solicitors has stated that international solutions are needed to ensure that individual’s privacy rights are protected.

The UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is exploring the threats posed to human rights by the collection of personal data and examples of where they have been breached.

“The safeguards set out in the General Data Protection Regulation go a long way to addressing potential concerns in a UK context,” said Tim Musson, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Privacy Law Sub-Committee.

“However, we are concerned that consumers are not aware of all the ways in which their data is being used and think that governments and data collecting corporations should work together to establish industry-wide standards of good practice in the management of personal data. Industry should be proactively addressing these issues, rather than just reacting to the latest data scandal.”

The Law Society has also said that regulators and law enforcement agencies need to work together to provide international solutions if data protection and privacy rights are to be properly protected.

Musson added: “International human rights standards can be helpful in promoting protection of individuals’ rights, including privacy rights. Global principles such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can be helpful in setting a standard for compliance. If they are well publicised, these principles could help create and reinforce consumer trust.”

The Law Society also highlighted the importance of sector-specific organisations and praised the work of the International Bar Association by assisting lawyers in their compliance efforts.