Personal data can continue to flow freely between Europe and the UK after the European Union chose to adopt data adequacy decisions on the issue.
It means the EU has recognised the UK’s now independent data protection standards, post-Brexit, and agreed that they are in line with the protections offered inside the EU.
The announcement by the European Commission means UK businesses and organisations can continue to receive personal data from the EU and wider European Economic Area without having to put additional data security measures in place, recognising the UK can match the protections offered under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED).
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said it is “right” that the EU has “formally recognised the UK’s data protection standards after more than a year of talks.
“This will be welcome news to businesses, support continued co-operation between the UK and the EU, and help law enforcement authorities keep people safe,” he said.
“We will now focus on unlocking the power of data to drive innovation and boost the economy while making sure we protect people’s safety and privacy.”
Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, welcomed the decision but warned that the Commission is ready to step in should UK data privacy rules change in the future.
“The UK has left the EU but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was,” she said.
“Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today. At the same time, we have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by the Parliament, the member states and the European Data Protection Board, in particular on the possibility of future divergence from our standards in the UK’s privacy framework.
“We are talking here about a fundamental right of EU citizens that we have a duty to protect. This is why we have significant safeguards and, if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene.”
CBI director of policy John Foster said the decision will be welcomed by businesses across the UK.
“The free flow of data is the bedrock of the modern economy and essential for firms across all sectors – from automotive to logistics – playing an important role in everyday trade of goods and services.
“This positive step will help us move forward as we develop a new trading relationship with the EU.”