UK Gov treads carefully around Brexit and data protection policy

The Information Commissioners Office has given its approval of plans to implement the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation policies in the UK following Brexit saga.

Last week, Secretary of State Karen Bradley has announced the UK will implement General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in line with other European nations over the next two years, a move which has been given the thumbs up by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the government body responsible for data protection and freedom of information in the UK.

With Brexit dominating the headlines over the course of the summer, numerous questions were raised around the role of the UK technology industry following the exit, and how UK businesses will be impacted by the separation. Although there has been little communication to date, Bradley’s announcement would appear to see the UK government snuggle up to scorned European cousins as it aims to minimise the impact.

“We will be members of the EU in 2018 and therefore it would be expected and quite normal for us to opt into the GDPR and then look later at how best we might be able to help British business with data protection while maintaining high levels of protection for members of the public,” said Bradley in a statement.

The ICO will oversee the implementation of the EU’s GDPR policy in the UK to ensure its meets the European expectations. This is just another example of ‘what’s the point’ with regard to Brexit. Some commentators in the industry must be wondering why the country is going through the process of exiting the union if it is just going to copy policy and brown-nose the EU.

“The ICO is committed to assisting businesses and public bodies to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond,” said Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner on the organization’s blog.

Considering the strict data protection rules which are in place within the European Union, any differences seen in UK policy following Brexit could have been disastrous for UK businesses who have European customers. If data cannot reside in the UK how much sense would it be to have operations in the UK? The ripples could have eventually led to businesses uprooting and settling within the European Union.

The UK government will be hoping the move to implement GDPR will gain a thumbs up from European Commission bosses that the UK is still okay. The on-going Safe Harbour/EU-US Privacy Shield saga concerning transatlantic data flow is a prime example of how the UK could end up with the sharp end of the stick if the exit is not managed carefully.

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