Europe's Data Protection Guardians Green Light EU-UK Data Flows

Europe's Data Protection Guardians Green Light EU-UK Data Flows

The UK’s quest for unhindered data flows to and from the EU took another important step forward yesterday after the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) approved the Commission’s draft adequacy decisions.

Adequacy decisions are the process by which the European Union decides whether countries outside the bloc offer an adequate level of protection for the data of EU citizens. They are critical to granting seamless data flows between the EU and so-called “third countries”  like the UK post-Brexit.

After the European Commission issued two draft adequacy decisions in February 2021 approving the UK’s data protection regime, the EDPB has now recommended their acceptance. The board is an independent European body set up to ensure consistent application of the GDPR.

“The EDPB says that there are key areas of ‘strong alignment’ between the EU and the UK data protection frameworks including on: grounds for lawful and fair processing for legitimate purposes; purpose limitation; data quality and proportionality; data retention, security and confidentiality; transparency; special categories of data; and on automated decision making and profiling,” explained compliance experts Cordery.

“But it is not an unqualified blessing. The EDPB highlights a number of areas requiring further assessment and monitoring including: the UK exception for immigration data; onward transfers; and the role and powers of the security services.”

The latter could be a particular sticking point, given the outsized powers for mass surveillance the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act grants to its intelligence services. It was a similar issue which led to the collapse of the Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield data sharing agreements between the EU and US.

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