Brexit Data Talks Have Come a Long Way Since Protection Warning

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union and the U.K. appear set to maintain commercial and personal data flows after Brexit, according to the draft agreement on their future relationship, despite previous uncertainties.

A draft document obtained by Bloomberg that sketched out their post-Brexit ties says the EU will begin the certification process for the U.K. as soon as possible once it leaves the bloc, aiming to "adopt decisions by the end of 2020, if the applicable conditions are met."

Maintaining data flows is crucial for companies operating on both sides of the English Channel and who need to smoothly move data, like payroll information or customer bills, between countries.

Once the U.K. leaves the bloc, it will need a so-called adequacy decision from the EU, certifying that its data protection system is in line with the EU’s. The EU wants to ensure that the personal data of European citizens is handled securely and in a way that protects their privacy when it’s transferred outside the bloc.

That adequacy decision has been in question after the U.K. adopted its 2016 Investigatory Powers Act, allowing law enforcement authorities to have the power to intercept communications in bulk. In a January notice, the EU warned the U.K. not to make assumptions that it will be granted an adequacy decision due to “considerable uncertainties” around its pending departure.

However in April, the U.K. High Court ruled that the Investigatory Powers Act was ruled incompatible with EU law. The U.K. government has since backed down on a number of its controversial changes to the Act. As long as the U.K. continues to abide by the EU rules, cross-border data looks set to continue flowing.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.