Japan Adequacy Decision Adopted by the EU Commission

On 23 January 2019, the EU Commission adopted a decision confirming the adequacy of Japanese data protection laws for the purpose of transferring personal data from the EU to Japan in compliance with the international data transfer restrictions set out in Chapter V of the GDPR. Continue reading

Data protection if there’s no Brexit deal

On 13 September 2018, the UK Government published a series of technical notes setting out the implications in various sectors and areas of a ‘no deal’ scenario (i.e. a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without an agreement), including a note specifically covering data protection. The note sets out the actions UK organisations should take to enable the continued flow of personal data between the UK and the EU in the event that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place.

Transferring data from the UK to the EU

Even in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, the technical note confirms that there should not be any impact on the transfer of personal data from the UK to the EU and beyond. A combination of the UK Data Protection Act 2018 and the EU Withdrawal Act would incorporate the GDPR into UK law. As such, the provisions currently found in Chapter V of the GDPR, which prohibit the transfer of personal data outside of the EEA without adequate safeguards in place, would remain. UK entities would therefore continue to be able to freely send personal data from the UK to the EU, and would continue to need to satisfy an appropriate legal basis to legitimise the transfer of personal data beyond European borders.

The technical note further confirms that, “in recognition of the unprecedented degree of alignment between the UK and EU’s data protection regimes, the UK would at the point of exit continue to allow the free flow of personal data from the UK to the EU”. However, there is a potential sting in the tail as the technical note provides that the UK will keep this under review – once the UK data protection regime is no longer required to mirror the GDPR, it would in theory be possible for the UK Government to amend the UK rules to provide that, for example, no personal data could be transferred outside of the UK without additional safeguards in place – meaning that this could potentially change in the future.

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New reciprocal adequacy decision allows free flow of personal data between Japan and the EEA

On 17 July 2018, the EU Commission (“Commission”) and Japan concluded the negotiations on a reciprocal finding of an adequate level of data protection by both sides.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) which became effective across Europe on 25 May 2018, an adequacy decision adopted by the Commission is one of the ways which allows personal data to be transferred outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”). An adequacy decision is adopted if the Commission, after its assessment of the level of protection in the recipient jurisdiction, decides that the recipient jurisdiction ensures an adequate level of protection to the personal data of EU data subjects.

This is the first time the Commission and a third country have agreed on reciprocal recognition in respect of data protection adequacy. The other countries or territories which have been assessed by the Commission as having an adequate level of protection of personal data are all based on the Commission’s unilateral decisions (e.g. New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland). Reciprocal recognition means that not only can personal data be transferred from the EEA to Japan in compliance with the GDPR, it can also be transferred from Japan to the EU in compliance with the Japanese law.

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UK Government Position Paper on International Transfers of Data – Key Points

The post below was first published on our Employment blog

Last week the UK Government released its negotiating position paper on international transfers of personal data within the EEA (The Exchange and Protection of Personal Data). Once the UK leaves the EEA it will no longer be subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”) and would no longer form part of the EU “safe data” zone throughout which personal data may be freely transferred. The GDPR will however continue to apply to UK businesses who provide goods or services to individuals in the EEA.

In line with previous declarations, the position paper outlines the Government’s desire to maintain the “frictionless” movement of data to and from other countries within the EEA. It cites the economic benefits for the UK and EU as well as cooperation in respect of law enforcement matters (such as serious crime and terrorism).

The position paper sets out the Government’s preferred outcome in three key areas:

  • An EU adequacy decision in relation to the UK’s post-Brexit data protection legislation;
  • The continued input of the UK data regulator (the Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”)) in the EU’s regulatory dialogue; and
  • Interim arrangements, from the point of Brexit to the time when more permanent measures  have been put in place, to maintain stability and consistency

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EU – US Privacy Shield adequacy decision incorporated into the EEA Agreement

On 12 July 2016 the European Commission adopted an “adequacy decision” allowing for the transatlantic transfer of personal data from the EU to the US in accordance with the framework and principles of the EU-US Privacy Shield (the “Privacy Shield”). This new framework was established following the previous transfer mechanism, the US Safe Harbour, being found invalid by the ECJ in October 2015. Continue reading

EU-US Privacy Shield first annual review announced following a challenging introduction

On 12 July 2016, the European Commission adopted an “adequacy decision” allowing for the transatlantic transfer of personal data from the EU to the US in accordance with the framework and principles of the EU-US Privacy Shield (the “Privacy Shield“).

Two privacy advocacy groups have however since filed actions in the European General Court to annul the adequacy decision. On 28 October 2016 the Irish privacy advocacy group, Digital Rights Ireland, filed an “action for annulment” on the basis that the Privacy Shield does not sufficiently protect the privacy rights of EU citizens. If successful, the action would invalidate the European Commission’s adequacy decision that approved and adopted the Privacy Shield. The group filed the challenge in the General Court based in Luxembourg, the second highest EU Court after the CJEU. A further challenge was also filed in the General Court by a French civil society group at the end of October 2016. It could take the General Court twelve months or more before a decision is handed down.

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