DMA comes out fighting over post-Brexit data transfer deal

DataIQ News

Industry body the DMA has issued a stark warning of the threat to the £240bn data economy posed by Brexit, reinforcing its call for the Government to strike an adequacy deal to ensure the continued free flow of data between the UK and EU.

Ahead of the DMA's own 'Brexit briefing' this week, group chief executive Chris Combemale claims that the UK cannot retain its position as a global leader in data, technology and marketing if we do not have an adequacy deal on future data flows with Europe.

He said: "Without an adequacy agreement in place, UK businesses and other organisations would need to find an alternative route to retain the free flow of data with the EU."

However, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is even more worrying, Combemale insists. "The challenges of a no-deal Brexit would be much more complicated for British businesses, as the disruption to the free flow of data between the UK and EU would be very damaging.

"This could have further knock-on effects on the UK public, with the possibility of jobs moving to the EU and investment also decreasing."

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, UK-based companies with EU customers could lose access to their own data, as data transfers from Europe would be prohibited.

To help counter this threat, the DMA is working with Fedma to mitigate the risks of no deal by having a Fedma Code of Conduct endorsed by the European Data Protection Board which would be available to UK companies via the DMA.

The DMA is advocating for a deal to be established that would enable the free flow of data and also give the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office a voting place on the European Data Protection Board.

In its Brexit white paper, Government has demanded guarantees that British companies will not find themselves suddenly cut off from Europe. However, so far Brussels has refused to play ball, with the EU also rejecting calls for Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to retain her place on the EDPB.

Combemale added: "The UK ICO brings a risk-based philosophy to the deliberations of the EDPB, provides a more balanced view between innovation and privacy than some continental counterparts, in keeping with general UK attitudes and approaches to enterprise."

He concluded: "In short, a no-deal Brexit is antithetical to the interests of the data and marketing industry as a whole. A no-deal on data would cause immediate and complete ceasing of UK data-flows with EU countries, a practice through which enormous amounts of business is conducted.

"Indeed, 75% of the UK's cross-border data flows are with the EU. Having lobbied this position for months, we know that the Government understands the ramifications of this. We shall continue to impress upon the Government and our EU partners the importance of getting a deal on data."