Thursday, October 19, 2017

UK gov’t vows to maintain data stability between EU-UK after Brexit

PM Theresa May reinforces the need to keep a common ground when looking at the data economy.

The UK government has published a 77-page whitepaper to set out Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for the country to leave the EU.

“The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union” paper focuses on the previous 12 principles announced by the PM on January 17.

From law control to immigration, to people’s rights and trade, the document also makes some allusion at the government’s plans regarding data.

“The stability of data transfer is important for many sectors – from financial services, to tech, to energy companies,” it reads in the whitepaper.

“EU rules support data flows amongst Member States. (…) The European Commission is able to recognise data protection standards in third countries as being essentially equivalent to those in the EU, meaning that EU companies are able to transfer data to those countries freely.

“As we leave the EU, we will seek to maintain the stability of data transfer between EU Member States and the UK.”

Commenting on the news, Emma Fryer, associate director at techUK, told Data Economy: “The paper recognised that the stability of data transfers between the UK and the EU is important for many sectors.

“Indeed, data passporting is fundamental to the future of the UK services economy – three quarters of the UK’s data flows are with EU countries.”

In addition to the data, the government says it will look to ensure that the UK’s own customs systems and processes continue to be “as effective as possible”.

“We have an open mind on how we implement new customs arrangements with the EU and we will work with businesses and infrastructure providers to ensure those processes are as frictionless as possible, including through the use of digital technologies.”

Mark Bailey, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, told Data Economy that it is very welcome that the government has been “so clear that a stable and predictable regulatory environment is essential for the UK to do business”.

He said: “A major priority in this environment is data protection and data transfer. It is important both from a stability and predictability perspective if the government clarifies quickly  precisely how it will “seek” to maintain the stability of data transfers, as an adequate data transfer solution between the UK and EEA is essential, in particular for cloud computing and IoT platforms.

“The government also has a valuable role to play in the consultations on free flow of data to minimise unnecessary data localisation barriers.”


Negotiations must take into account data centres

As for data centres, Fryer, who has looked extensively into the market in the UK, said that any negotiations must include consideration of the data centre market to ensure it continues to thrive.

She said: “We repeat our call to the Government to make achieving an adequacy agreement with the EU a top priority in forthcoming negotiations.

“Our recent reports on the impact of Brexit on digital industries and the data centre sector outline key risks and considerations in order to make Brexit a success.”

In the whitepaper, PM May wrote: “We do not approach these negotiations expecting failure, but anticipating success. Because we are a great, global nation with so much to offer Europe and so much to offer the world.

“The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the [referendum] outcome. And the country comes together.

“Not merely forming a new partnership with Europe, but building a stronger, fairer, more Global Britain too.”

The whitepaper concludes saying: “The Government has made clear that we will honour the choice that the people of the UK made on 23 June 2016; the UK will leave the EU.

“We will seek an ambitious future relationship with the EU which works for all the people of the UK and which allows the UK to fulfill its aspirations for a truly global UK.”