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UK Government proposes enhanced data centre security measures, seeks input for regulations

Written by Mon 18 Dec 2023

The UK Government has proposed enhanced data centre security measures and is seeking input on regulations.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s new rules aim to foster a secure digital environment. The new regulations are also expected to bolster economic growth and attract investment in data centre services.

The Government said the new laws will make minimum requirements mandatory to ensure data centre operators are taking appropriate steps to boost their security and resilience. 

The Government added the new rules will also help protect businesses and services that rely on data centres against disruption. This aims to reduce the risk of significant incidents that could interrupt or compromise access to data.

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, said protecting the security and resilience of data in the UK is of utmost importance.

“Protecting both the public and our national infrastructure from attack is crucial. We need a whole-of-society approach, with the public and private sector working in tandem to strengthen our defences,” added Dowden.

A new regulatory function is also being considered. The Government said this is to ensure data centre service operators report incidents and collaborate with the sector to test and assure risk mitigation against threats.

More widely, this initiative aims to enhance transparency and cooperation between industry and the Government. This is so risks to the UK can be appropriately identified and addressed. 

The proposed plans will also ensure businesses are operating in line with the greater national interest. As a result, the Government is also considering dedicating parts of the data centre sector as critical national infrastructure.

Why has the Government Proposed new Data Centre Regulations?

The Government said that the proposals coincide with the increasing use of connected devices and digital activities like online shopping and social media. 

This surge in digital engagement has led to a substantial rise in data stored in the UK, as well as the demand for expanded data storage and processing capabilities, along with the imperative to enhance its protection.

“Ensuring companies storing [data] have the right protections in place to limit risks from threats such as cyber attacks and extreme weather, will help us reap the benefits and give businesses peace of mind,” said Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure.

The Government said the data centre sector holds significant importance for economic activity, the delivery of both private and public services, and the daily lives of millions in the UK.

According to the Government, around 28% of all UK businesses use services housed in data centres. A total of 62% of large companies are more likely to use data centres.

The Government added that data centre operators generated around £4.6 billion ($5.8 billion) in revenue in 2021. In 2022, data contributed 6.9% to GDP. A total of 76% of all UK service exports were also reliant on data.

The UK Government Calls for Views on Regulation

The UK Government has issued a consultation seeking input on proposed measures, inviting perspectives from stakeholders like data centre operators, cloud providers, and industry experts. 

“techUK and its members look forward to engaging on the matter to ensure the scope and policy development are done in a way that is practical for industry, its customers, supply chain and consumers, and cognizant of commercial environments,” said Julian David, CEO of techUK, a trade association.

The feedback collected will guide the Government’s decisions on these measures. The consultation will run until 22 February 2024.

The Government said amendments to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill will build on new regulations. The Bill amendments aim to improve data security to enhance national security and deliver new post-Brexit economic opportunities of at least £4 billion ($5 billion). 

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Written by Mon 18 Dec 2023

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