Insights

Protecting the protectors: Calls for emergency legislation to prevent the prosecution of healthcare professionals when treating COVID-19 patients 

BCL Solicitors Associate David Hardstaff, a specialist in professional discipline and criminal litigation, discusses recent calls for emergency legislation to protect healthcare professionals from prosecution arising from incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Licence to kill – will undercover criminal activity be lawful for all purposes?

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (‘the Bill’)[1] is making its way through Parliament and is currently at the Report Stage of the House of Lords.[2] If enacted, the Bill will provide the statutory framework for certain public authorities to a) authorise a Covert Human Intelligence Source (‘CHIS’) and b) authorise a CHIS to commit what would otherwise be criminal conduct. Owing to its potential scope, the Bill has come under fire from several political parties and campaign groups, which described the Bill as ‘a licence for government agencies to authorise torture and murder.’[3] The Government meanwhile has stated that a ‘CHIS will never be given unlimited authority to commit any and all crimes.’[4] So why is this happening now and what does this mean?

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£18.4 million Marriott International GDPR fine announced by ICO; what did we learn?

On October 30th, 2020, The Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) announced its fine of £18.4 million issued to Marriott International, Inc., (“Marriott”) for violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). This is a significant decrease from the proposed fine of £99.2 million announced by the ICO in July 2019 (see our previous article here) against the background of Marriott’s security breach reported to have lasted some four years between 2014 to 2018, with the fine relating to the breach only from the point at which the GDPR came into force in May 2018. It is the second largest GDPR fine levied by the regulator thus far, behind that imposed on British Airways. To date, Marriott has not admitted liability for the breach, but the major international hotel operator has indicated that it does not plan to appeal the decision.

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The UK’s National Data Strategy – Too Much Love?

“We want the UK….to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business”. With this ambitious aim, the Government has laid out its National Data Strategy, focusing on unlocking the value of data, establishing a pro-growth data protection regime, and championing international data flows to promote economic development. Already a feted success, the UK’s digital sector now stands behind only the US and China in global venture capital funding and directly employs more than 1.5 million people in London and other major UK cities. Despite its laudable aspiration, however, the Data Strategy signals post-Brexit regulatory intentions which risk inhibiting and choking off the future growth of this successful UK industrial sector.

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