‘Brexit’ will not affect GDPR implementation

The Government’s confirmation that it will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) despite ‘Brexit’ is “good news for the UK” says the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Nov 23, 2016
By Joe Shine

The Government’s confirmation that it will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) despite ‘Brexit’ is “good news for the UK” says the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The GDPR will replace the EU directive that the 1998 UK Data Protection Act is based on. It will run parallel with a new directive for police and justice issues that should enable police forces across Europe to work together faster and more efficiently to counter serious crime and terrorism.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley confirmed at a recent appearance before the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee that “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”.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “I see this as good news for the UK. One of the key drivers for data protection change is the importance and continuing evolution of the digital economy in the UK and around the world. That is why both the ICO and UK government have pushed for reform of the EU law for several years.

“The digital economy is primarily built upon the collection and exchange of data, including large amounts of personal data – much of it sensitive. Growth in the digital economy requires public confidence in the protection of this information.”

Ms Denham, who replaced Christopher Graham as Information Commissioner in July, having previously held the position of Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada, said citizens want the benefits of these digital services but they want privacy rights and strong protections too.

“Having sound, well-formulated and properly enforced data protection safeguards help mitigate risks and inspire public trust and confidence in how their information is handled by business, third sector organisations, the State and public service,” she added.

There is a two-year transition period before the new EU-wide regulations pass into law, which Mr Graham previously said promise to be the “biggest shake-up for consumers’ data protection rights for three decades”.

The major shift with the implementation of the GDPR will be in giving people greater control over their data.

“This has to be a good thing,” said Ms Denham in her ICO blog. “Today’s consumers understand that they need to share some of their personal data with organisations to get the best service. But they’re right to expect organisations to then keep that information safe, be transparent about its use and for organisations to demonstrate their accountability for their compliance.”

European Parliament’s lead MEP on the directive for police and justice issues, Estonia’s Marju Lauristin, said the “historic agreement” was the first time rules covering police and criminal justice authorities on data protection in the EU were being “fully harmonised”.

She said it should facilitate the sharing of information, while at the same time ensuring that European citizens’ fundamental rights are not violated.

Ms Lauristin said the directive on the protection of individuals – with regard to the processing of personal data for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences – will be the first instrument to comprehensively harmonise 28 different law enforcement systems with respect to data processing for law enforcement purposes. It will also set minimum standards for data processing for policing purposes within each member state.

While the new GDPR will apply directly throughout the EU with the aim of bringing about a standard data protection regime, the directive relating to police and justice issues will be implemented in each member state individually.

John Rowland, editor of Police Market Report, the monthly subscriber-only bulletin that specialises in police ICT, says the longer-term impact of the GDPR is unknown as parts of it “will brea

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