On 26 August, the UK announced its intention for a new multi-billion pound global data partnership with the US, Australia and the Republic of Korea.
The Government will prioritise striking ‘data adequacy’ partnerships with the United States, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia. It will also prioritise future partnerships with India, Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia. It will build on the adequacy arrangements the UK already has in place with international partners including New Zealand, Japan and Canada, as well the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Having left the EU, the Digital Secretary now holds powers to strike data adequacy partnerships with partners around the world. The Government intends to unlock more trade and innovation by reducing unnecessary barriers and burdens on international data transfers, thereby opening up global markets to UK businesses. In turn, this will help give UK customers faster, cheaper and more reliable products and services from around the world.
Data underpins innovation and the global digital economy, everyday apps and cloud computing systems. It allows businesses to trade, drives international investment, supports law enforcement agencies tackling crime, the delivery of critical public services and health and scientific research. International data transfers are also vital for everyday activities such as GPS navigation, video calls with family and friends, online banking, powering apps people use daily, retail, and businesses’ back-office delivery.
Data adequacy partnerships, with countries or sectors which have high data protection standards, means organisations do not have to implement costly compliance measures to share personal data internationally. Securing these arrangements will be a significant step in the UK’s ongoing plans to unlock the power of data to drive UK growth and innovation.
These new data adequacy partnerships, which will be subject to assessments that ensure high data protection standards, will build significantly on the £80 billion of data-enabled service exports to these 10 destinations from the UK every year.
A Mission Statement on the UK’s approach to international data transfers and the ‘UK Adequacy Manual’ were also published on the 26 August, which will be used to inform the assessment of a territory’s commitment to high data protection standards. These are alongside a call for experts to form a new council to inform and consult on the UK’s international data transfers policy. The council will consist of the brightest and best minds from across the globe and be drawn from industry, academia and civil society.
On 26 August, the Government also named New Zealand Privacy Commissioner John Edwards as its preferred candidate to be the UK’s next Information Commissioner, following a global search. As Information Commissioner and head of the UK regulator responsible for enforcing data protection law, he will be empowered to go beyond the regulator’s traditional role of focusing only on protecting data rights, with a clear mandate to take a balanced approach that promotes further innovation and economic growth.
The Government wants to empower the Information Commissioner to promote the responsible use of data to stimulate innovation and economic growth, and for Mr Edwards to bring a new perspective to the role alongside his wealth of data regulatory experience and 20-year career practising and specialising in information law. His experience overseeing an independent country’s unique data regime also deemed ‘adequate’ to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be vital.
Plans to consult on the future of the country’s data regime are also being confirmed. The aim is to make the country’s data regime even more ambitious, pro-growth and innovation-friendly, while still being underpinned by secure and trustworthy privacy standards. In the coming weeks, the Government will launch a consultation on changes to break down barriers to innovative and responsible uses of data so it can boost growth, especially for start-ups and small firms, speed up scientific discoveries and improve public services.
The consultation is expected to include the role of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) so it can be empowered to encourage the responsible use of data to achieve economic and social goals as well as preventing privacy breaches before they occur.
The proposal comes after the UK launched its Innovation Strategy and a plan to make the country a global leader in innovation-focused digital regulation to help cement the UK’s position as a world leader in science, research and innovation.