Brexit Withdrawal Agreement: Impact for data protection

Following a UK Cabinet meeting on 14 November 2018, the UK Government has announced support for the text of a draft Withdrawal Agreement and an outline of the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship agreed with EU negotiators. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019 and includes a transition period through to 31 December 2020, during which EU law will continue to apply in and to the UK (the “Transition Period”). Data protection features in both the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the outline Political Declaration, reflecting the significance of the data protection rules to both the EU and the UK. 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. Continue reading

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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