The Government appears to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by securing the much-lauded data protection adequacy agreement with Brussels to allow the continued free flow of data from across the EU to the UK, preventing an estimated £85bn of UK exports going down the plughole.
This decision, which has been drafted by the European Commission and could be announced as early as this week, will prove a huge relief for tens of thousands of businesses which feared the worst post-Brexit.
Privacy group the Irish Council for Civil Liberties had even urged the European Commission not to grant a deal, arguing that the Information Commissioner’s Office’s “failures” in handling data protection complaints – and specifically against the adtech industry – meant the UK could not be trusted.
However, an extension to the data transfer pact was included in the EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement signed just before the New Year, giving the UK until June to secure an agreement.
Without an adequacy deal, UK firms would still have been able to transfer data to EU business, but companies in Europe would not be able to send data to the UK as Britain will be classed as a “third country” without adequate data protection laws.
The deal appears to have been secured in record time; the quickest adequacy decision took 18 months to finalise, while the most recent one, signed with Japan, took years to complete.
Even so, the agreement will need to be approved by the European Data Protection Board and it is understood the it will be continuously reviewed by the EU and could even be subject to legal challenges at the European Court of Justice.
A European Commission spokesperson said: “The adequacy talks with the UK are well advanced and the adoption process is foreseen to start very soon.”
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