A new consultation is to be launched shortly by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to look at ways to increase trade and innovation through a development of the UK data regime.
In combination with the replacement of current Information Commissioner with a new Commissioner (who is likely to be John Edwards, an experienced privacy lawyer with a New Zealand practice), it seems more change to data management is coming – a change from data protection in favour of a balancing of privacy rights with the promotion of innovation.
The stated intention behind the changes is to support Brexit trade opportunities, not just with the UK and Australia but, importantly, with fast growing economies such as South Korea, Singapore, Dubai, Colombia, India, Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia, by creating new UK-adequacy partnerships with them.
John Edwards is said to be ambitious to develop a world leading data policy for the UK to deliver ‘Brexit dividends’ to both individuals and business in the UK.
Finding a solution to the current US Privacy Shield problem would certainly facilitate the sharing of UK personal data with the US, something which has been causing some issues over the past year since Privacy Shield was judged to be “non-compliant” with the GDPR by the European courts.
Similar arrangements with other non-EU countries will no doubt also enable transfers of personal data out of the UK and the EEA territories for processing further afield, which may be very welcome news to UK business.
However, only recently the UK was granted an ‘adequacy’ decision from the EU Commission to enable the continued free flow of personal data between the EU and the UK post Brexit. This adequacy decision was granted relatively quickly because the UK has incorporated the GDPR into UK law post Brexit (commonly referred to as the UKGDPR and supporting the previously passed Data Protection Act 2018).
The fresh announcement that the UK is going to move away from what it now sees as a restrictive data protection regime, and reshape the UK data laws to enable an increase in trade with non-EU countries, may rattle the EU Commission and mean the adequacy decision is short-lived.
The outgoing Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, is reminding people of the importance of retaining the trust and transparency that has been achieved with the GDPR, seen as the global gold standard in data privacy protection. A rapid move to a new, freed-up data legislation will be welcome news and an opportunity to move forward for business, but the Cambridge Analytica scandals should remind us also of the need for controls.