British data protection standards are ‘adequate’, the EU has ruled following more than a year of talks.
The decision, which was welcomed by the UK government, will allow personal data to continue to flow between the UK and EU without the need for additional arrangements.
Only 12 countries have positive data adequacy rulings from the EU. A bid by the US to achieve adequacy has been rejected twice.
Failure to get the decision could have plunged British businesses into disarray, leaving industries from banking to logistics needing to set up more costly, bureaucratic alternatives to share data, the Guardian reports.
It was estimated by the New Economics Foundation that the lack of a data deal would have cost businesses up to £1.6bn.
Secretary of State for Digital Oliver Dowden said the decision formally recognised the UK’s high data protection standards.
“This will be welcome news to businesses, support continued cooperation between the UK and the EU and help law enforcement authorities keep people safe,” he said. “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.”
Although the decision is welcome news for businesses, it comes with a four-year ‘sunset clause’ after which it will have to be renegotiated. The clause, which is not in place for any other country, is indicative of EU suspicion that the UK will diverge from its rules, the Telegraph reports.
Věra Jourová, commission vice-president for values and transparency, said: “We have significant safeguards and if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene.”
According to Politico, the government is already considering ditching the deal if it stands in the way of its ambitions for UK digital business.
As reported in the IOE&IT Daily Update bulletin, a recent report from the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, recommended a “bonfire of red tape” including scrapping GDPR, the EU’s data protection law.
However, a data expert has warned that loosening data protection standards would make the UK an “international pariah”.
Writing in the FT, Jeni Tennison, vice president of the Open Data Institute said that while cutting data regulations would lower compliance costs, trust would diminish and tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft would hesitate to process data in a jurisdiction where personal information was at risk.
The government has set great store in the UK’s position as digital leader and yesterday announced a bid to sign a ground-breaking digital economy agreement with Singapore to boost business.