Subject to the deadlock in parliament being broken, or an extension of the Article 50 Brexit process, the UK’s 46-year European Union membership will cease in a matter of days. In the privacy world, the primary focus for most companies to date has, quite rightly, been on ensuring that data flows in and out of the UK can continue lawfully after that date. But for companies operating across Europe, and indeed across the world, with establishments or customers in the UK, Brexit also has implications in terms of the applicability of the UK data protection framework to their operations. The UK government has published its catchily-titled draft Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which amend the territorial applicability provisions of the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 to ensure the law applies appropriately after the exit day.
Right now, the whole of the U.K. appears to be on the same spot looking over a precipice. However, this is not the moment to be blind. As politicians struggle to find a magic formula for a prosperous Brexit, businesses are stepping up their efforts to mitigate the damage of a possible “no-deal Brexit.” The data protection community is no different. The proposed withdrawal agreement would have preserved the status quo in data protection terms, at least until the end of the transition period in December 2020. However, if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal, the implications for international data flows and privacy compliance generally will be severe. Therefore, British pragmatism demands an urgent and thorough approach to preparing for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit.
Amid the constitutional and political uncertainties surrounding the Brexit process, the UK Government has provided welcome assurance on the data protection front. Guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) confirms how UK data protection law will work in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Whilst the Government still regards a No Deal Brexit as “unlikely”, given the extremely severe implications of that scenario for transfers of personal data into and out of the UK, the DCMS confirmation is hugely helpful in terms of the preparations needed for that eventuality.
The draft text of the EU-UK withdrawal agreement was published by the UK Government and the European Union yesterday, providing some of the first concrete indicators of the possible direction of travel in the area of data protection. In this post, we discuss ten initial conclusions from the draft text.
Unless there is a political earthquake (some would say a miracle) Brexit will happen on 29 March 2019. Upon Brexit the UK will cease to be an EU Member State and become a so-called ‘third country’. As a result, UK-based organisations, which in the context of transfers of personal data to countries outside the EU have always been exporters, will become importers of data originating from the EU. This is a serious concern because transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries are severely restricted. So a key UK Government objective from day one has been to ensure that the UK is regarded as an adequate jurisdiction, which would allow unconstrained transfers of personal data from the EU. But will it be?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (‘DDCMS’) has today released guidance on “Data protection if there’s no Brexit deal”, which is part of its preparations for if there is a “no deal” scenario when the Article 50 negotiating period comes to an end on 29 March 2019. The UK will become a “third country” on its exit from the European Union, which means that unhindered cross-border transfers of data will no longer automatically be able to take place between the UK and the EU. The guidance confirms that, given the “unprecedented alignment” between the UK and EU data protection regimes, the UK would continue to allow transfers of data from the UK to the EU at the point of exit. However, the Commission has made it clear that they would not make a decision on adequacy until the UK is a third country (that is, after 29 March 2018), and its procedure for reaching a decision typically lasts several months.
“A new law will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its world-class regime protecting personal data”. This is today’s strong statement by Her Majesty The Queen reflecting the level of priority given by the UK government to privacy and data protection. Aside from the political controversies surrounding the recent general Election and the prospect of Brexit, the Queen has confirmed that during this Parliament the government intends to pass a new Data Protection Act replacing the existing one.
To coincide with the London Conference on Cyberspace, the UK Government published its first UK Cyber Security Strategy paper in November 2011. Five years later in November 2016, the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016 was published listing three key objectives: defend, detect, develop.
The thing about referendums is that the consequences of one outcome or another are likely to be rather disparate. If Brexit turns out to be rejected by the majority of the UK electorate, we will simply carry on as normal – quietly enjoying the benefits of the European Union whilst moaning about the threat that […]
Making the UK a safe place to live and prosper is not a small matter. Whatever the root causes, the threats to public safety are real and a political priority for government and opposition alike. This huge responsibility combined with the complexities of 21st century communications has resulted in a succession of laws aimed at legitimising the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tap into our digital lives. Just like technology itself, this is a moving target and policy decisions in this area have come thick and fast – not just in the UK but in many other democracies around the world.
The continued uncertainty around the draft EU Data Protection Regulation presents something of a challenge for data controllers. It’s clear that it could require them to make significant changes to how they handle individuals’ data, but the ongoing fundamental political disagreements make it difficult to predict which changes will make it into the final form of the legislation. So it is interesting to see the recommendations on the UK ICO’s blog on where to start in preparing for reforms, highlighting three areas: consent, breach notification, and privacy by design.
Price discrimination based on tracking of Internet Protocol addresses – numerical identifiers assigned to devices that are connected to the Internet – was in the news again this week after a Belgian Member of the European Parliament, Marc Tarabella, called for action from the European Commission to investigate the practice.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office recently published new guidance on the application of data protection laws to social networking and online forums that clarifies that organizations operating social networking sites or online forums may have responsibilities as data controllers under the UK Data Protection Act, including the responsibility to take reasonable steps to check the accuracy of any personal data posted on its site by third parties.
Concerned that the prescriptive nature of the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation will impose a significant additional administrative burden on regulators, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office as published on its website a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice which re-states the Information Commissioner’s concerns about the proposed Regulation.