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Brexit: Data protection is front and centre

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The Prime Minister explained in a speech on the 2 March what the UK’s future relationship with the EU would be, at least what she hoped it would be.

One of the key pillars of that future relationship will be data protection policy.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, recognises the critical importance of the free flow in personal data to economic growth in both the UK and EU.

Ensuring that Brexit does not disrupt the free exchange of personal data between businesses based in the UK with their EU counterparts is a priority.

Many UK businesses sell products and services to EU citizens and vice versa. Maintaining the free flow in data is mutually beneficial to both the EU and UK.

Specifically, the Government seeking more than an adequacy judgement from the EU. Adequacy status can be granted by the EU Commission to a country outside the EU, which allows personal data to be exchanged freely.

The UK will be seeking its own bespoke deal, due to the UK’s unique position of alignment with EU data protection law.

The Data Protection Bill will implement the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK. Many EU member states have not even begun this process.

Speaking about the UK’s high data protection standards, May said:

“The UK has exceptionally high standards of data protection. And we want to secure an agreement with the EU that provides the stability and confidence for EU and UK business and individuals to achieve our aims in maintaining and developing the UK’s strong trading and economic links with the EU.”

This bespoke deal would also recognise the contribution of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to EU data protection law, including the GDPR guidance.

The ICO is one of the best resourced data protection authorities in the EU and has been responsible for many of the briefs in the Article 29 Working Party.

The ICO is an important advocating for an even balance between business interests and individual privacy rights. An EU without the ICO would lose a pragmatic and liberal voice.

May outlined the ICO’s future role in her speech:

“That is why we will be seeking more than just an adequacy arrangement and want to see an appropriate ongoing role for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office. This will ensure UK businesses are effectively represented under the EU’s new ‘one stop shop’ mechanism for resolving data protection disputes.”

The DMA working with the Advertising Association (AA) has been lobbying for this outcome and wrote to the Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock, advocating for a continued role for the ICO in the EU after Brexit.

The letter was supported by several well-known brands, such as, Google, Sky and Unilever.

It was warmly received by Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, who shared it with other ministers with a responsibility for Brexit.

DCMS agree that securing a strong bespoke data protection deal will be crucial, if the free flow in personal data is to be maintained. Therefore, post-Brexit the UK and EU will align on data protection law.

In our letter to ministers we reminded them large contribution made to the economy by marketing and advertising.

Annual UK exports of advertising services are worth £4.1 billion and every £1 spent on advertising returns £6 to the economy, resulting in £120 billion to UK GDP.

Hear more from the DMA

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