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4 February 2020

Data in a post Brexit world

By Carol Tullo, OBE

Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash

February 1, 2020 – everything changed but everything stays the same!  We are in transition until 31 December 2020 so the next 11 months, as all the news bulletins and press are saying, brings negotiations and new agreements with our former EU partners and the rest of the world.  For those of us used to working across frictionless data boundaries, manoeuvring through legislation and directive to deliver grounded advice about data, licensing and copyright, what happens next?

As data professionals, it is our role to reassure – it is business as usual even while we watch the regulatory and legislative world evolve and adapt for end 2020.  The rolling BBC news channel had to add a rider to their breaking news banner on January 31, that all travel to the EU will be unaffected for the rest of the year.  Apparently, radio phone ins and news sites were inundated with queries as the tenor of the news suggested massive, immediate upheaval and change.  It is the most significant constitutional change, some say since Henry VIII broke with Rome!  On a practical level though, it is in no country’s interests to fracture data borders with the UK. Pragmatic optimism is the order of the day.

Reconciled to the uncertainties of 2021, we will follow the ICO advice [their 6 page Q and A reissued on 16 January, is solid common sense]. For most UK citizens, the data sharing they take for granted will be unaffected though how many realise that their Cloud storage, or their Amazon data is all stored in Ireland, or that data servers are international and work to move data packages round the world without any barriers.  Data sharing stories in the media tend to focus on the high-level security arrangements between the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance community.  The more prosaic data sharing that fuels internet transactions, business to business third party contracts, school, office, workplace, and social lives is more complex.  This is not the time to scare monger, but it is worth serious thought about basic data privacy.  Knowing where data is stored, what processing is happening and how it is documented will make sure any organisation is prepared for any shifts in the legal framework. We will move to UK GDPR at the end of this year. How that differs or evolves from the rest of the EU will make our roles to advise and support crucial. 

Timing is sensitive as the recent announcement that the UK will not be transposing the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive demonstrated.  The new Directive on Open data and Public Sector Information 2019 updating the previous 2013 PSI Directive where the legal obligation to transpose kicks in after the implementation period, means that this will be a busy time to work through the detail of legislation that would otherwise have affected  our data world.  Data is an integral part of any future economic partnership and a negotiating issue.  We live in strange times and as Tim Berners-Lee said “ Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves”.

Naomi Korn Associates provides data protection training and consultancy that is practical, authoritative and always delivered in the context of current legal requirements and legislative and technological developments. If our services are of interest, please contact Patrick@naomikorn.com or  +44 020 3475 5122

© Naomi Korn Associates, 2020. Some Rights Reserved. The text is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)