Digital Technology

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 10th January 2019.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the UK’s digital sector of the UK leaving the EU without an adequacy agreement to ensure uninterrupted UK-EU data transfers.

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The impact of exiting the EU has been modelled for the UK economy as a whole. Several potential exit scenarios were explored in the government's EU Exit: Long-term Economic Analysis which was published in November 2018. No specific assessment has been made about the potential disruption to the UK’s digital sector. However, the Government has consistently made clear that many EU and UK businesses and public sector organisations rely on the free flow of personal data to fulfil their obligations and therefore maintaining the free flow of personal data is a priority for the Government.

The Data Protection Act 2018 updated the UK’s rules in accordance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and transposed the Law Enforcement Directive, ensuring our data protection laws will be aligned with those of the EU at our point of exit. We are confident that we will strike a positive relationship on data. The UK and the EU start from a position of trust in each other’s standards and regulatory alignment on data protection. As set out in the Political Declaration, the EU will begin its assessment of the UK as soon as possible after the United Kingdom's withdrawal, endeavouring to adopt decisions by the end of the implementation period. The UK is ready to begin those assessments.

In addition to prioritising an early adequacy decision, it is the job of a responsible Government to prepare for the possibility that we leave the EU without an adequacy agreement in place. On 13 December the Government and the Information Commissioner's Office published detailed information and guidance on data protection in the event that this were to happen. DCMS is engaging with businesses across all sectors of the economy, including the digital sector, to mitigate risks to disruption of international data transfers. In recognition of the unprecedented degree of alignment between the UK and EU’s data protection regimes, the UK would at the point of exit continue to allow the free flow of personal data from the UK to the EU.

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