The DMA has hit out at a new EU “position paper” on data protection and data transfers post-Brexit, warning that its stance is not only a major threat to the UK economy but to the future of all European businesses.
The move comes just weeks after the UK Government outlined its commitment to enable unhindered data sharing with the EU after the UK leaves the union.
It also backed a House of Lords report – published in July – which said that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office should secure a place on the new European Data Protection Board.
The CBI has previously warned that if no transition deal is agreed, the UK’s potential £240bn data economy is at risk of isolation. The DMA maintains that the free flow of data between the UK and EU is extremely important to not only British businesses, but EU ones too. Some of the UK’s biggest markets for its advertising and marketing services are in Europe, such as, France and Germany.
It warns that disrupting trade in this way is a lose-lose for both the EU and the UK. It is imperative that a deal is struck that maintains the free flow of data so that once the UK leaves the EU, data exchanges can continue unhindered, the trade body insists.
However, this appears to have fallen on deaf ears in Brussels, with the EU paper giving little away in terms of what deal the EU Commission will be seeking to strike with the UK to maintain the free flow in data.
DMA group chief executive Chris Combemale warned: “The EU’s current position is not just a threat to the UK economy, but to success of Europe as a whole. Maintaining the free flow of data is essential for future growth both on the continent and in the UK.
“The EU’s paper starkly illustrated that not reaching an agreement on this issue poses a real risk to every data-driven business in the UK, which is to say almost every company.”
“In August, the UK Government set out a reasonable approach in its own policy paper, which clearly set out the plan to enshrine the GDPR into UK law providing a framework for the continued free flow of data across Europe.”
The industry body cited its own study, which found that 76% of businesses want to retain access to the digital single market post-Brexit, highlighting the importance of this issue to the majority of UK companies.
“The EU’s paper also makes no mention of the status of the UK’s ICO and retaining a position on the European Data Protection Board, something the UK Government made clear it would want to retain. At the DMA, we believe this is a key issue and its omission is a concern. We continue to call for the ICO to have a full voting place on the EDPB following withdrawal and that this issue urgently be added to the discussions.
Combemale also insists that the EU’s attempts to restrict the UK’s ability to agree trade deals with other nations by removing separate data transfer protocols from future agreements is a threat to freedom and democracy.
He added: “The UK is already a global leader in the data-driven economy and unfettered access to the digital single market is important to its continued success, therefore the free flow of data between the UK and EU is a must for any future trade deal.”
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