Government’s Dismantling of Data Protection undermines rape victims’ protections from digital strip searches

•       Laws that underpin new code of practice to protect rape victims from digital strip searches are about to be reformed.

•       New sweeping Henry VIII powers to empower data-sharing contained within these reforms will undermine trust in UK’s Data Protection Laws.

This week the Government announced a new code of practice (1) to try to better protect victim’s right to privacy during rape investigations.

However this code of practice relies on privacy rights that are enshrined in UK law by UK GDPR, and the Data Protection Act 2018.

These very same rights are under attack from the Government’s own proposed Data Protection and Digital Information Bill  (2) aka the Data Discrimination Bill.

ORG Policy Manager Sophia Akram, said:

Through our work with organisations that support the victim’s of rape we hear that digital strip searches, and the expectation that you will hand over all your electronic devices for examination can be a barrier to victims coming forward.

“While there are some improvements in the new code of practice, this all relies on there being strong protections in law for our Privacy rights.

“The Government’s proposed changes to UK GDPR and Data Protection are a direct threat to those privacy rights, and we fear they will unleash more data discrimination.

“For example Part 1 of that bill would grant ministers to define any intrusive  data- process such as digital strip searches as a ‘legitimate interest’. This would by-pass parliamentary scrutiny, and the requirement of a victims consent to having their electronic devices searched.”



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Notes to editor

1. The Government’s new code of practice on digital strip searches was released on 17/10/22. It can be downloaded from this link’s consultation can be downloaded from this link. 

2. The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2022 can be viewed on the Parliament’s website at this link

3. ORG responded to the consultation on the new code of practice. This response can be viewed at – Many of the points we raised about the need to train officers on the processes have not been picked up in the new code of practice.

4. ORG’s briefing and detailed analysis of the new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill can found here.