Govt strikes data deal with South Korea ‘worth £15m’

south koreaThe Government is ploughing ahead with its data adequacy deals with countries outside the EU, signing what it claims is a “landmark” agreement with South Korea to help unlock millions in economic growth.

UK organisations will be able to share personal data securely with the Republic of Korea before the end of the year as the UK finalises legislation for its first independent adequacy decision.

Ministers claims that allowing businesses in both countries to share data without restrictions will make it easier for them to operate and grow. Once in force, the Government estimates the legislation will pave the way for a £15m economic boost for UK firms, cutting “administrative and financial burdens” for British businesses by £11m a year and increasing exports to South Korea by £3.8m annually.

After agreeing to a data adequacy agreement in principle in the summer, the UK Government has completed its full assessment of the Republic of Korea’s personal data legislation, concluding that the country has strong privacy laws in place which will protect data transfers to South Korea while upholding the rights and protections of UK citizens.

Before now, organisations needed to have contractual safeguards in place, such as standard data protection clauses and Binding Corporate Rules. Ministers insist the new deal will open up opportunities for many small and medium sized businesses who may have avoided international data transfers to Korea due to these restrictions.

It is claimed removing barriers to data transfers will also boost research and innovation by making it easier for experts to collaborate on medical treatments and other vital research which could save lives in the UK. For example, secure international personal data transfers are essential for developing effective medical treatments like vaccines.

UK Data Minister Julia Lopez met with representatives of the Korean Personal Information Protection Commission today to mark the legislation being laid in Parliament; it is expected to come into force from December 19.

When in the EU, the UK already had a deal with South Korea, but post-Brexit this was scrapped but ministers claim this new adequacy decision with the country is broader. The most significant difference between the two deals is that UK organisations will be able to share personal data related to credit information with the Republic of Korea to help identify customers and verify payments.

It is claimed that the ability to share this type of data will help UK businesses with a presence in the Republic of Korea to boost credit, lending, investment and insurance operations in the country.

Data Minister Julia Lopez said: “Before the end of the year, businesses will be able to share data freely with the Republic of Korea – safe in the knowledge it will be protected to the high privacy standards we expect in the UK.

“Removing unnecessary burdens on businesses will help unleash innovation, drive growth and improve lives across both our countries.”

Korean Personal Information Protection Commission chair Ko Haksoo added: “It’s a great pleasure for us to see the outcome of the UK’s adequacy decision for the Republic of Korea today.

“I look forward to strengthening our partnership in promoting the trustworthy use and exchange of data between Korea and the UK based on a high level of data protection.”

UK Information Commissioner John Edwards commented: “We support the Government in undertaking adequacy assessments to enable personal data to flow freely to trusted partners around the world.

“We provided advice to the Government during this assessment of the Republic of Korea, and we are satisfied with the Government’s recognition of similar data protection rights and protection in Korean laws. This will bring certainty to UK businesses and reduce the burden of compliance, while ensuring people’s data is handled responsibly.”

Britain’s adequacy decision with the EU is estimated by the UK Government to be worth up to £85bn a year to the economy. Ministers insist the UK’s own deals will not jeopardise this; many data protection experts remain unconvinced.

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