As Brexit day looms, MPs are being urged not abandon European data protection laws to accept far weaker US-style legislation, which could undermine trust in the technology, finance and health sectors.
That is the rallying cry of privacy organisation the Open Rights Group, which has used this year’s Data Protection Day to warn that data protection in the UK is under threat following claims that the Government could diverge from European privacy standards.
It argues that the likelihood of a loose trade agreement with the EU will mean the UK will come under pressure to dilute data privacy standards, especially to allow US companies to access UK markets without high levels of data protection.
In a letter to MPs, the organisation states: “There will be pressure from many companies, such as insurance, bank credit agencies and some large Internet companies, to lower standards. Pressure will come from the US government, who will want to make data flows more important than data protection in future trade agreements.
“Data protection matters to your constituents. It protects their sensitive personal data such as health data from being exploited, it seeks to protect them online and give them more control over who can use their personal data. In 2019, a Eurobarometer survey found 73% of people in the UK were concerned about not having complete control over the information they provide online.”
The letter asks for commitments from the Government that data protection standards will continue to apply across all industries, protecting personal data from abuse and that trade agreements will not be used to dilute, undermine or circumvent existing data protection standards.
The letter concludes: "Now that we are facing an uncertain future it is more important than ever for the UK to commit to respecting the right to privacy."