The European Commission has said the UK’s data protection laws are in line with the EU’s, paving the way for a long-term adequacy decision.
Article 44 of GDPR prohibits the transfer of personal data from the EU/EEA to recipients in jurisdictions outside the bloc, unless specific conditions are met.
One of the conditions is an “adequacy decision” granted by the Commission – if a third country is deemed adequate the data can be transferred to that country.
After the Brexit deal agreed in December the Commission granted the free flow of personal data for a maximum of six months but the UK had not secured the adequacy agreement.
“We have thoroughly checked the privacy system that applies in the UK after it has left the EU. Now European Data Protection Authorities will thoroughly examine the draft texts,” Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice said.
The government has already incorporated EU regulations into its own laws, namely GDPR and for the first time the Law Enforcement Directive.
“Ensuring free and safe flow of personal data is crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel. The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family,” Vera Jourova, vice-president for values and transparency at the Commission said.
The preliminary decision has been welcomed by industry bodies given the UK has become increasingly reliant on the data economy. It is estimated it makes up four per cent of GDP and is predicted to be worth $130bn by 2025.
“The international transfer of personal data is critical to UK Tech, particularly sectors such as fintech, which has expanded rapidly by unlocking the power of data,” Stephen Kelly, chair of Tech Nation said.
“The positive adequacy decision between the UK and the EU therefore brings great news to the tech sector, following months of waiting and contingency planning in the bridging period.”
TheCityUK chief executive Miles Celic has urged a “similarly pragmatic approach is taken to resolving other issues.”
“Outstanding areas of concern for the UK-based industry include the preservation of cross-border civil and commercial rulings, the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and regulatory equivalence in areas where UK rules are either identical, or more robust than existing EU standards,” he added.