UK government releases new Brexit policy paper on the exchange and protection of personal data

- Leadership - Aug 24, 2017

Today, the UK government published a Brexit policy paper on the exchange and protection of personal data. The government hopes to build a new, deeper partnership with the EU, and develop an agreement on a UK-EU model for the protection and exchange of personal data is vital.

The UK will recognise and comply with the high data protection standards required as it exits the EU, in exchange for the kind of relationship the nation desires.

Dr. Karen Mc Cullagh, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia’s School of Law, has stated that various aspects of this paper are welcome, especially with regard to the maintenance of high level data protection. The agreement will seek a transactional mutual recognition of data protection laws, followed by an adequacy decision from the European Commission when the UK leaves the EU.

Dr. Mc Cullagh said: “The UK government has sensibly recognised the need for continuing close alignment of UK and EU data protection laws. It is both an economic and legal imperative.

“In the past it has taken countries several years to obtain an adequacy decision but it should be quicker for the UK if our laws do meet all the requirements at the date of withdrawal.

“However, the position paper overlooks the fact that the UK Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is likely to prevent mutual recognition and/or an adequacy finding. The extensive surveillance, interception and retention powers in it have been found to be unlawful in a series of cases heard by the Court of Justice of the European Union.  

“The US was forced to rely on fall-back measures like binding corporate rules pending the replacement of Safe Harbor with Safe Shield, when its surveillance laws were found to breach the privacy rights of EU citizens. These are time consuming and expensive to administer. The UK should try to avoid this type of scenario by amending the Investigatory Powers Act. 

“Failure to revise the Act so that UK laws are compatible with EU laws could result in member states refusing to transfer personal data to the UK. Impeded data flows would cause harm to the UK's economy.” 

Dr. Mc Cullagh authored the paper ‘Brexit: potential trade and data implications for digital and ‘fintech’ industries’ which was published earlier this year in the journal International Data Privacy Law.

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