No Deal Brexit -- Would The Data Really Stop Flowing?

Talk of borders being erected in the event of a no deal Brexit is usually focused on checks on goods crossing between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

This weekend, The Sunday Times made a very important point about data as it leaked the Government's Yellowhammer report, which outlines the implications of a no deal Brexit.

While much of the leaked document deals with worst-case scenarios, it has to be said that in theory at least, the bleak picture it paints is not over the top. The basic point is that there is no agreement to ensure the free flow of data after October 31st when the UK could lead the EU without a deal in place. 

With no "equivalence" agreement in place -- through which the UK would be deemed as an acceptable place to receive data from and send data to -- the worst-case scenario is that the flow of data could come to an end.

As the comments on the article leaking the document suggest, it is pretty difficult to imagine this is the situation we will wake up to on November 1st. It would be so mutually destructive. Does anyone really think that Amazon and eBay will stop working? Will businesses in mainland Europe suddenly stop advertising and selling to UK consumers, and vice versa?

It's unlikely, isn't it? Mind you, if one looks at the ICO advice, it is clear there is the potential for a problem. As ever with Brexit, it's an unknown because it relies on what mainland Europe decides to do. 

The UK government has decided not to impede the flow of UK data to the EU, but of course, there is nothing the UK can do if the EU decides the UK is not a safe place to send data. 

It is a possibility, but I have to say that I can't imagine for a moment the EU would switch off the data flow and assure the mutual destruction of companies on both sides of the newly created border in The Channel. 

The more likely situation has to be an acceptance that all UK businesses are subject to GDPR for data processing and using data in digital marketing through laws that will soon be updated by the ePrivacy Directive. As long as the UK adopts these rules, it would be hard to see how the country couldn't be seen as offering "equivalence" in data processing, protection and application.

UK businesses have been instructed to ensure that all their data processes are compliant and to talk to EU partners to ensure that data can keep on flowing. The issue is that it's not really up to those EU businesses to dictate how the trading bloc responds to a no deal Brexit.

No hurdles will be thrown up by the UK side, but our businesses cannot be assured of the same attitude from mainland Europe.

The rest of the document spoke of food, fuel and medical shortages and painted a picture of hauliers who are not prepared being delayed by a couple of days when leaving the UK. Of the several domesday scenarios painted by the Government's own leaked document, the EU holding back the flow of data would seem like the least likely, wouldn't it? 

There are reasons for concern, obviously, from a no deal Brexit but it's hard to see that the worst-case scenario of data ceasing to flow ever coming to fruition. 

Next story loading loading..