As British bosses toss and turn at night over the failure of Brexit negotiators to secure the future of data transfers between the UK and EU, they will not know whether to laugh or cry at a new data protection deal with Japan, after it was revealed it has taken years to thrash out.
The move, which has been hailed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as “the world’s largest area of safe data flows”, sees Japan finally strike an “adequacy” agreement on data transfers between the two.
Japan is joining an exclusive club of 11 relative minnows, including Argentina, Israel, and New Zealand, which are considered to have the same level of personal privacy protections as Europe.
The announcement came ahead of a meeting between Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in Tokyo at an EU-Japan Summit.
EU justice commissioner Věra Jourová said: “Data is the fuel of global economy and this agreement will allow for data to travel safely between us to the benefit of both our citizens and our economies
“By working together, we can shape the global standards for data protection and show common leadership in this important area.”
In its recent Brexit White Paper, the UK Government had demanded guarantees that British companies – which operate in a digital economy worth around £240bn – will not find themselves suddenly cut off from Europe.
However, so far Brussels has refused to play ball, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier also rejecting calls for Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to retain her place on the new European Data Protection Board.
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