Brexit: UK launches “world-leading” data council to help seize global data sharing opportunities

The world’s biggest businesses – including Google, Mastercard, and Microsoft – came together for the first time last week to help Britain “seize the opportunities of better global data sharing” now that it has left the EU.

The announcement comes after the European Commission formally agreed to recognise Britain’s high levels of data protection standards – allowing personal data to flow freely from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK without the need for additional safeguards – last year.

Here’s what you need to know about data after Brexit.

What is the International Data Transfer Expert Council?

The new advisory board brings together 20 experts and academics from the world’s biggest firms and organisations, including Google, Microsoft, Mastercard, the World Economic Forum, IBM, and the Centre for Information Policy Leadership.

They met for the first time on Tuesday to officially launch the council with the aim of helping Britain to “seize the opportunities of better global data sharing”.

This includes unlocking the benefits of free and secure cross-border data flows now that the UK has left the single market.

For example, the council will provide independent advice on the development of new international data transfer tools and mechanisms and securing new data adequacy partnerships with other countries – including the United States, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre, and Colombia.

Who will this help?

New tools, mechanisms, and partnerships will help British firms that trade overseas – and particularly those in sectors such as GPS navigation, smart devices, healthcare, and banking – to provide international services more reliably, cheaply, and securely.

According to the latest figures, around £83 billion of annual service exports are underpinned by data sharing.

But billions of pounds of global trade go unrealised every year due to barriers associated with data transfers.

Am I currently allowed to share data with the EU?

Yes. The European Commission agreed to recognise Britain’s data protection standards – allowing personal data to flow freely from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK without the need for additional safeguards – in June last year.

The decision – which will remain in place for four years – means that personal data must be scrutinised under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED).

Businesses must continue to comply with these rules to share data across the single market.

Data flows have “never been so important”

Commenting on the formation of the Council, Data Minister Julia Lopez said: “Realising the benefits of international data flows has never been more important.

“We want the UK to drive forward cutting-edge policies at home and overseas to ensure people, businesses and economies benefit from safe and secure data flows.

“Today we’re launching a new panel of global experts to help us achieve these aims and I will lead the first meeting so together we can deliver a world-leading and truly global data policy for the future.”

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