‘Free movement of data is key post-Brexit’

The Information Commissioner has promised to “bang the drum” to ensure the UK has free movement of data with other countries after Brexit.

Data organisations including the Information Commissioners Office and Direct Marketing Association (DMA) will “bang the drum” to ensure the UK has free movement of data with other countries after Brexit, the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has told marketers.

Speaking at the DMA’s Data Protection conference in London today (24 February) Denham said that even if the UK government decides to repeal or replace EU data laws after leaving the bloc, the country will need to maintain high levels of protection for consumers if businesses and marketers are to trade freely using data.

DMA chief executive Chris Combemale similarly commented that the body would advocate trade deals with all countries and the EU that ensure free movement of data. The UK can become “the world’s data centre of excellence” as a result, he added, thanks to having “the skills and balanced approach to privacy that makes this possible”.

The first step for brands will be complying with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation before the May 2018 deadline. ICO guidance on key areas of the new law, such as consent and profiling, will be unveiled in the next few weeks, Denham announced.

She cautioned that marketers must be transparent with consumers by default and minimise surprises for them: “If you can’t happily justify what you’re doing with customers’ information, it’s very unlikely you are operating within the confines of the law.”

Demonstrating that you have processes to protect data and mitigate harm to consumers if there is a breach will also be crucial for brands. The GDPR includes mandatory notification of breaches to the ICO, but Denham said it is more likely to investigate where companies “don’t have their act together”.

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