Journalists, financial firms and anti-doping bodies could receive special exemptions from new laws to Protect Personal data, the government has said.
The proposals are part of a new Data Protection Bill, published on Thursday, which will overhaul UK data laws.
It will impose much heavier fines on those who do not protect personal data.
In most respects the bill, which will come into force next May, will transfer the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation into UK law. The legislation will also be maintained after Brexit.
However, the government said it had negotiated "vital" exemptions to create a more "proportionate" regime for Britain.
'Freedom of expression'
- Journalists who access personal data on the grounds of freedom of expression and to expose wrongdoing
- Scientific and historical research organisations, such as museums and universities, from certain obligations that would hinder their work
- Anti-doping agencies who are trying to catch drug cheats
- Financial services firms who handle personal data on suspicion of terrorist financing or money laundering
- And employees who, where justified, access sensitive data without consent to fulfil obligations of employment law
These include being able to preserve the anonymity of their sources or access personal data without consent, as long as it is in the public interest.