Will Brexit disrupt data flows to and from the UK?

Will Brexit disrupt data flows between the UK and other countries?

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union — or Brexit as it is referred to — could stop data flowing in and out of Britain, according to a legal expert. 

The issue is further brought into the spotlight by the recent transatlantic data pact between the US and the EU.  The potential worry over such a deal from the UK’s point of view is if countries outside the EU and US had restrictions placed on their data flows.

Christopher Jeffery, partner at international law firm Taylor Wessing, says: “The uncertainty as to whether the UK will be considered safe for data flows relating to citizens from the rest of Europe is causing concern, and making some companies consider whether data centre capacity in mainland Europe is the safer bet.

“To secure the UK’s role in global data flows and as a place to start and grow digital businesses, most people expect that the country will need to align itself closely with the EU’s GDPR.

“Even UK-only businesses will need to raise the bar significantly in terms of privacy compliance.”

Another industry person also expressed concerns about Brexit’s potential effects on data flows.

As quoted on CNBC.com, Antony Walker, deputy CEO of industry body techUK explains why this is significant. “The UK’s service-based economy means that the transfer of data across borders is fundamental, affecting industries from automotives – which includes the development of driverless cars – to financial services,” he says.

CNBC also quotes someone from Chatham House as saying post-Brexit UK “would be unlikely to meet the standards required for Privacy Shield status” of the US-EU data pact.