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crime, health and insurance data to flow freely between Britain and EU

Data illustration –

A preliminary EU decision to allow crime, health and insurance data to continue to flow freely between Britain and the bloc has been hailed as a Brexit breakthrough.

The European Commission published on Friday its draft data adequacy decisions, which concluded that the UK can provide acceptable data protection standards to allow the ongoing exchange of data.

A six-month “bridging mechanism” is currently facilitating data exchange between the UK and EU following the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec 31, but it is due to expire at the end of June.

In the modern, hyper-connected world, the seamless exchange of information between the two territories is seen as vital. The EU’s decision was viewed as a boon for both nation states and businesses.

The move paves the way for the continued exchange of files between UK and EU law enforcement agencies, while also allowing healthcare, insurance and technology companies to swap customer information, such as bank details, across the two territories.

Legal challenges could yet be mounted at the European Court of Justice against data sharing between the bloc and Britain, however. Last year aspects of an EU-US data transfer agreement were struck down by the court.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, welcomed the draft decisions which he said “rightly reflect the UK’s commitment to high data protection standards and pave the way for their formal approval”.

He added: “Although the EU’s progress in this area has been slower than we would have wished, I am glad we have now reached this significant milestone.”

The EU already recognises other countries around the world as adequate including Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Uruguay. The UK freely exchanges data with these countries.

Vera Jourova, European Commission vice president for values and transparency, said that ensuring the free and safe flowing of data was “crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel”.

She added: “The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family. At the same time, we should ensure that our decision will stand the test of time.

“This is why we included clear and strict mechanisms in terms of both monitoring and review, suspension or withdrawal of such decisions, to address any problematic development of the UK system after the adequacy would be granted.”


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