The UK Government has published a document outlining their proposal for the protection and exchange of personal data with the European Union. The plans could ensure that personal data will continue to move back and forth between the UK and EU in a safe and properly regulated manner.
The document shows that the Government is considering the case for a ‘unique approach’ that would allow data to continue to be exchanged to ensure ongoing competitiveness, innovation, and job creation. It seeks to reflect the ‘unprecedented alignment’ between the British and European law that recognises high data protection standards in place at the point of exit.
According to the report, this would provide continuity and certainty for businesses, allowing public authorities, including law enforcement authorities, to continue their close co-operation in protecting people’s data and privacy. It would also allow for ongoing regulatory co-operation between the UK and EU data protection authorities.
Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, said: “In the modern world, data flows increasingly underpin trade, business and all relationships. We want the secure flow of data to be unhindered in the future as we leave the EU. So a strong future data relationship between the UK and EU, based on aligned data protection rules, is in our mutual interest.
“The UK is leading the way on modern data protection laws and we have worked closely with our EU partners to develop world leading data protection standards. The paper published today sets out how we think our data relationship should continue. Our goal is to combine strong privacy rules with a relationship that allows flexibility, to give consumers and businesses certainty in their use of data.”
The report acknowledges the important role that digital industries play in the UK’s economy. In 2015 they were worth £118.4 billion, making up 7.1% of the UK’s total GVA. It also estimates that around 43% of all large digital businesses in the EU are registered in the UK. Subsequently, the Government believes that any disruption to the free-flow of Data would be costly to both the EU and Britain.
Chris Combemale, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, told DIGIT: “The UK’s data-driven creative industry is already a global leader and unfettered access to the digital single market is important to its continued success. Therefore, we welcome the government’s announcement and commitment to protecting the free flow of data between the UK and EU post-Brexit.”
The document establishes that sharing personal data is also essential to wider cooperation that helps in the fight against serious crime and terrorism. It highlights an example from October 2014 and September 2015, where the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) received 800 requests for financial intelligence from EU Member States. The intelligence contained personal data relating to individuals, companies, and organisations with suspected connections to money laundering, fraud, terrorism, and other financial crime.
A new, ‘deep and special’ relationship between the UK and the EU would need to include a model for GDPR that:
- Allows for a safe and properly regulated data exchange
- Offers stability and confidence to businesses, public bodies, and law enforcement authorities
- Provides for ongoing regulatory cooperation between the EU and the UK on current and future data protection issues
- Continues to protect the privacy of individuals
- Respects UK sovereignty, including the UK’s ability to protect the security of its citizens, and its ability to maintain its position as a global leader in data protection
- Does not impose unnecessary additional costs to businesses
- Is based on objective consideration of evidence
The document concludes: “After leaving the EU, the UK will continue to play a leading global role in the development and promotion of appropriate data protection standards and cross-border data flows.
“In doing so we will work alongside the EU and other international partners to ensure that data protection standards are fit for purpose – both to protect the rights of individuals, but also to allow businesses and public authorities to offer effective services and protect the public.”