More than 1,300 days after the UK narrowly voted to leave the EU and months of political wrangling, Brexit Day is finally upon us.
Tomorrow marks the start of the official transitional period, during which Boris Johnson has promised to cut all ties with Europe; the UK will no longer have to stand by EU laws and will be free to carve new trade deals with other countries.
Britain will be able to continue processing personal data and will remain under the GDPR through the transition period. But Westminster will have to obtain “adequacy” status by Brussels if cross-border transfers of personal data to and from the EU are to continue beyond December 2020, when the transition period ends.
Earlier in 2019, European Data Protection Supervisor, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, was reported as saying that Britain might be 13th in the queue to strike a new post-Brexit data deal, and that it might be unfair to let the Brits jump to the front.
However, the negotiations will be conducted by the European Commission, rather than the EDPS. Furthermore, the Political Declaration that comes with the UK Withdrawal Agreement commits the EC to beginning its assessment of UK adequacy “as soon as possible after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, endeavouring to adopt decisions by the end of 2020, if the applicable conditions are met.”
On the ground floor of British business, market uncertainties related to Brexit are pushing UK businesses to streamline operations and manage costs by leveraging digital business technologies, according to a new report published today by Information Services Group (ISG).
The 2019-2020 ISG Provider Lens Digital Business – Solutions and Service Partners Report for the U.K. finds enterprises in the country embracing robotic process automation to automate processes and reduce their dependency on manual labor.
“U.K. enterprises are leveraging digital transformation to manage market changes and sluggish growth,” said Barry Matthews, partner and head of ISG UK.
“Digital business providers are helping enterprises solve operational changes and sustain themselves during this time of uncertainty.”
Digital business service providers are preparing for Brexit by setting up risk assessment committees to constantly track changes and assess their impact, the report says. They are helping their enterprise clients prepare for the split from the European Union by providing them with impact assessments and managing logistical changes.
In many cases, U.K. businesses are seeking providers that specialise in their industry to help them with their digital transformation journeys, the report says.
In addition, the report finds U.K. enterprises wrestling with a shortage of skilled workers. With an increase of digital technologies being used, U.K. companies have launched significant efforts to up-skill current employees and hire new graduates with related technology skills. Many companies are concerned that Brexit could lead to cross-border labour restrictions.
Commenting on this momentous occasion and how it will influence the future data landscape for UK business, Abigail Dubiniecki, Founder, Strategic Compliance Consulting Ltd describes how it’s “business as usual through to 31st December 2020, whereas after that date, “we have a huge unknown.”
“[Post December 31st 2020], there could be a new trade deal with the EU that clearly sets out the new UK-EU relationship. There could be a no-deal, cliff-edge situation. Or there could be an extension.
“Maybe the UK will have another deal in the works, which is unlikely. The UK may or may not be found to be ‘adequate’ for the purpose of data flows. In this case, uncertainty delayed, is certainty denied,” Abigail says.
“We have to plan for multiple scenarios. But one thing is certain for data protection: whether you’re in or out, the EU’s data protection and privacy laws impact businesses around the world. Comply and align or lose market access,” she continues.
“Even if you’re a UK-only business, the GDPR has been incorporated into UK law through the Data Protection Act 2018. My advice regarding data protection would be to stick to the principles and the good practices the GDPR has forced upon us and go beyond. Privacy and trust are business differentiators. We can worry about the details in 2021,” Abigail added.
Get to the edge of the Brexit debate at PrivSec London
An entire theatre dedicated to Brexit discussion is available to delegates on day two of PrivSec London, coming to London’s QEII Exhibition Centre on February 4th and 5th 2020.
This leading data privacy and cybersecurity conference presents two days of content-rich keynote talks and panel debates designed to address the most pressing business issues on today’s data protection landscape.
Delegates can hear Abigail Dubiniecki’s keynote talk, “Brexit and beyond: What your next steps should be.”
Audience members will be able to put their questions to Abigail in a Q&A session following the presentation.
Other topics discussed in the Brexit theatre include:
- Brexit and PECR19
- The UK as a third country
- International data transfers
- Article 27: Appointing an EU Representative
This watershed day in British politics spells potential disruption ahead for UK businesses and how personal and private data can be processed in accordance with evolving data law frameworks.
Executives should not miss this opportunity to be part of the Brexit debate alongside global leaders in cybersecurity and data protection, to understand what their obligations and options will be through and beyond this crucial transitional phase.
Building on the huge success of data privacy and cyber security conferences held throughout 2019, PrivSec London starts 2020 with another two-day event packed with keynote talks, panel debates, workshops and exclusive presentations.
The conference will offer DPOs, CISOs, CEOs, data practitioners and IT professionals an unmissable opportunity to join the global debate on data privacy and cyber security as digital transformation accelerates and data law frameworks grow in complexity.
Event: PrivSec London
Where: QEII Exhibition Centre, London
When: Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th February 2020