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Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 5:15 pm, 18th February 2019

I agree. That is why the Government are making all efforts to secure a deal. We agree that a deal is the best situation for the country. We are at one with that.

In answer to the noble Baroness, I will start with something which is my responsibility—the legislation.gov.uk website provided by the National Archives. I will take up the matter with it. I am told that it may be helpful to search for “draft statutory instruments” rather than “statutory instruments”. I certainly listened to what she said about the website not working and will check what we need to do.

The noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, and others talked about the impact assessment and asked why it has not been published. The impact of this instrument, not the impact of leaving the EU, was assessed in line with standard practice following the existing Better Regulation framework. It is focused on the direct impact of the relevant SI compared with the current legislation. The whole point of this SI is to maintain an equivalent regulatory framework to protect personal data. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, quite rightly pointed out that it affects not only UK businesses but mostly EU and EEA businesses, which will have to have representatives in this country, and I will come to that. It is a reciprocal arrangement. If these regulations come into force and we have a UK GDPR, the same necessity for representatives will take place both ways, and I will come to that.

The analysis, to the best of the Government’s ability, of the wider impact of the UK’s exit from the EU was published in the Long-term Economic Analysis in November last year. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, talked about representatives and Article 27. He is correct that data controllers who offer goods and services to or monitor the behaviour of data subjects in the UK will need to appoint a representative in the UK, but that is a cost to non-UK businesses, which is what the impact assessment is meant to address. He is also correct that there will be organisations in the UK that will be required as a matter of EU law to appoint a representative in the EEA. The ICO provides data controllers with advice on this obligation and will continue to do so. If controllers and processors based abroad are routinely processing data, it is right that they should be accountable in the UK and have a presence here because this is about maintaining the status quo as far as possible, not about rolling back protections for individuals, so the representative is a point of contact for the data subject as well the supervisory authorities, such as the Information Commissioner.