The Government has welcomed a preliminary decision that paves the way for the continued free flow of personal data between the EU and the UK.
The European Commission published draft data adequacy decisions on Friday which conclude that the UK can provide acceptable data protection standards to allow the ongoing exchange of data.
The draft decisions said the UK is able to match the protections offered by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (Led) and they will now go to the European Data Protection Board for a non-binding opinion before being presented to EU member states for formal approval.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period, a temporary “bridging mechanism” for personal data has been in place between the UK and the EU, allowing data to continue to flow freely between the two sides while the EU completes the adequacy process.
The seamless exchange of data between the UK and the bloc is seen as vital in the modern, connected world, where it is key not only in the exchange of information and ideas but also in law enforcement, health and scientific research.
Secretary of State for Digital, Oliver Dowden, said: “I welcome the publication of these draft decisions which rightly reflect the UK’s commitment to high data protection standards and pave the way for their formal approval.
“Although the EU’s progress in this area has been slower than we would have wished, I am glad we have now reached this significant milestone following months of constructive talks in which we have set out our robust data protection framework.
“I now urge the EU to fulfil their commitment to complete the technical approval process promptly, so businesses and organisations on both sides can seize the clear benefits.”
Vera Jourova, European Commission vice president for values and transparency, said that ensuring the free and safe flowing of data was “crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel”.
She added: “The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family. At the same time, we should ensure that our decision will stand the test of time.
“This is why we included clear and strict mechanisms in terms of both monitoring and review, suspension or withdrawal of such decisions, to address any problematic development of the UK system after the adequacy would be granted.”
The UK’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, reacted to the development, saying: “The draft adequacy decisions are an important milestone in securing the continued frictionless data transfers from the EU to the UK.
“Today’s announcement gets us a step closer to having a clear picture for organisations processing personal data from the EU and I welcome the progress that has been made.”