Data Protection Regulation

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was agreed in April 2016 and took effect from 25 May 2018. 

The UK implemented a new Data Protection Act at the same time that complemented the regulation. 

Our position

Personal data – such as information collected by a doctor or hospital, or as part of a research study – is a vital resource for research that has the potential to improve and save lives. 

The regulation creates a supportive framework for scientific research, including safeguards to ensure personal information is used appropriately and remains secure. 

During negotiations, the European Parliament proposed amendments to the regulation that would have imposed disproportionate limits on the use of health data. These would have had a devastating impact on research. We’re delighted that the regulation rejected these amendments.

What we’re doing

The regulation leaves it up to European Union member states to put detailed rules in place to govern the use of personal data in research. 

The Data Protection Act went through UK Parliament to set out these rules for the UK. We worked with the research community and policy makers to ensure a strong outcome for research. 

The Act creates a complete legal framework for data protection after the UK has left the EU. It is important for data to continue to flow across borders for research purposes and we support close alignment between the regulation and UK law following Brexit.

We also worked with the Health Research Authority and other key organisations to develop guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation for health researchers.

Timeline of key dates

Our timeline sets out the key dates for the agreement and implementation of the new regulation.



December 2017

October 2017

September 2017

June 2017

May 2017

March 2017


September 2016

May 2016

April 2016


December 2015

July 2015 

June 2015 


March 2014 

January 2014 


September 2013 

May 2013 

February 2013 

January 2013


August 2012 

March 2012 

January 2012

More information

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact Beth Thompson


Data sharing

Sharing data helps researchers to access and build on new information and knowledge.

European Union

The European Union supports science through legislation, funding opportunities and programmes to help cross-border collaboration.

Influencing policy

Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.


Regulation creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish. 

Reports and consultations