UK firms express relief as EU data transfer deal looms

brexit newUK business groups have hailed the European Commission’s draft data adequacy agreements which, once approved, will allow the continued free flow of data between British and EU firms, insisting “data will be vital to fueling the next wave of business innovation and driving transformation in our society”.

As widely predicted last week, the commission has published two draft data adequacy decisions, one under GDPR and the other under the Law Enforcement Directive (LED), to allow personal data to be transferred to the UK following Brexit, with EU members states having the final decision.

According to the documents, the commission considers the UK’s data protection laws “ensure a level of protection for personal data… that is essentially equivalent” under both GDPR and LED, and that the “oversight mechanisms and redress avenues” allow consumers to exercise their rights.

Both draft decisions will be studied by the European Data Protection Board and need to be sanctioned by EU member states before they can be fully adopted, although most observers sees this as a formality.

Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said: “A flow of secure data between the EU and the UK is crucial to maintain close trade ties and cooperate effectively in the fight against crime. Today we launch the process to achieve that. We have thoroughly checked the privacy system that applies in the UK after it has left the EU.

“Now European data protection authorities will thoroughly examine the draft texts. EU citizens’ fundamental right to data protection must never be compromised when personal data travels across the Channel. The adequacy decisions, once adopted, would ensure just that.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden welcomed the publication of the draft decisions, which he insisted proved the UK’s commitment to data protection.

He said: “Although the EU’s progress in this area has been slower than we would have wished, I am glad we have now reached this significant milestone following months of constructive talks in which we have set out our robust data protection framework.

“I now urge the EU to fulfil their commitment to complete the technical approval process promptly, so businesses and organisations on both sides can seize the clear benefits.”

Meanwhile, TechUK chief executive Julian David said: “[The] decision is warmly welcomed by the tech sector which has been making clear the importance of a mutual data adequacy agreement since the day after the referendum.

“Receiving data adequacy, alongside the EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement, will set a solid foundation for digital trade with the EU, including strong non-discrimination clauses and positive data flows provisions, that will give businesses the confidence to invest.”

Tech Nation chair Stephen Kelly added: “The data economy makes up about 4% of national GDP and is predicted to be worth $130bn by 2025, making the UK a global hub for data flows. The positive adequacy decision between the UK and the EU therefore brings great news to the tech sector, following months of waiting and contingency planning in the bridging period.

“It supports the continued growth of tech scaleups and the position of the UK as a global leader in data-driven technologies. As we look ahead at building back better, the international flow of data will be vital to fueling the next wave of business innovation and driving transformation in our society.”

Those data protection “experts” who warned that an adequacy agreement was about as likely as hell freezing over, have yet to comment.

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