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12th Jul 2020

UK to 'align' with EU on data protection

  • As of next year, EU citizens will have a range of rights concerning their personal data online. The UK is set to announce that it wants to 'align' data protection rules. (Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg)

The United Kingdom will propose in a position paper on Thursday (24 August) to maintain a “strong future data relationship” with the European Union after exiting the bloc.

“In the modern world, data flows increasingly underpin trade, business and all relationships,” digital minister Matt Hancock said in a statement released to UK media.

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“We want the secure flow of data to be unhindered in the future as we leave the EU. … So a strong future data relationship between the UK and EU, based on aligned data protection rules, is in our mutual interest,” the statement added.

It is not expected that the UK leaves long before the end of the two-year exit negotiation period, which expires in March 2019, as set out by the EU treaties.

This means that a new far-reaching EU bill on data protection will apply directly in the UK for at least ten months anyway.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply as of 25 May 2018 across the bloc, and will replace data rules from 1995, which are considered outdated.

The GDPR includes many novel rights for EU citizens, such as the right to have online information rectified and the right to be informed if your data has been processed.

EU citizens will also have the right to move their data from one service provider to another, although much remains unclear about how this prospect of data portability will work in practice.

The GDPR also solidifies a concept that was first granted to citizens by the Court of Justice of the EU - the so-called right to be forgotten.

EUobserver found earlier this year that the right to be forgotten was particularly popular among UK citizens.

Earlier this month, the UK government proposed a bill that would make it easier for consumers to have photos and other personal data removed from online services such as Facebook and Google.

If the UK wants to remain aligned with EU data laws, the country would also have to continue to implement upcoming rules on cybersecurity.

The directive on security of network and information systems has to be transposed into national law by 9 May 2018, and includes an obligation for companies to report when they have been hacked.

Meanwhile, the EU is planning to go even further. Over the past two years, it proposed dozens of initiatives and rules that would move the bloc closer to a digital single market.

The UK and the European Commission, which acts on behalf of the remaining 27 member states, will continue their formal Brexit talks next week in Brussels.

26 EU states not ready for data law

The European Commission on Wednesday said only Austria and Germany have passed the relevant draft laws needed to ensure the launch of the EU's general data protection regulation on 25 May:

EU takes step towards free flow of data

Non-personal data should be allowed to cross EU borders without restrictions, with an exemption for security reasons, diplomats meeting in the Council of the EU have agreed.

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