UK data protections are aligned with GDPR, European Commission agrees
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Personal data will be permitted to flow freely between the EU and UK, following the EU’s recognition of the UK’s now-independent data protection standards as adequate and aligned with those within the bloc.
The decision by the European Commission means that British organisations may continue to receive personal data from the EU and wider European Economic Area without the implementation of additional data security measures to align UK protections with GDPR and the Law Enforcement Directive.
The decision, which followed more than a year of discussions, was welcomed by both sides.
“This will be welcome news to businesses, support continued co-operation between the UK and the EU and help law enforcement authorities keep people safe,” said digital secretary Oliver Dowden. “We will now focus on unlocking the power of data to drive innovation and boost the economy while making sure we protect people’s safety and privacy.”
Vera Jourova, European Commission VP for values and transparency, responded warmly to the decision. However, she warned that the Commission would need to reassess its decision should UK data privacy regulations change in the future: “The UK has left the EU, but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was.
“Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today. At the same time, we have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by the [European] Parliament, the member states and the European Data Protection Board, in particular, on the possibility of future divergence from our standards in the UK’s privacy framework.
“We are talking here about a fundamental right of EU citizens that we have a duty to protect. This is why we have significant safeguards and, if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene.”
A statement from the UK government said that all future changes to data protection regulations will be based on encouraging innovation: “The government’s approach will seek to minimise burdens on organisations seeking to use data to tackle some of the most pressing global issues, including climate change and the prevention of disease.”
John Foster, director of policy at the CBI, added: “This breakthrough in the EU-UK adequacy decision will be welcomed by businesses across the country. The free flow of data is the bedrock of the modern economy and essential for firms across all sectors, from automotive to logistics, playing an important role in everyday trade of goods and services.”
Foster's views were echoed by Julian David, CEO of techUK, who reiterated that “the free flow of data is essential to all business sectors”.
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