How UK (and US) Surveillance Creates Havoc for Personal Data Movement Post Brexit

By J. Scott Marcus, a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, and an independent consultant dealing with policy and regulatory policy regarding electronic communications. Originally published at Bruegel

The UK government would like to keep EU-UK data transfers largely the same following the country’s separation from the EU. But talks have yet to even commence on a future data-sharing relationship, and a landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling in September bodes poorly for the UK’s future status under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

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12 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    I can’t see the idea of data transfers between the UK and the EU post-Brexit being a popular idea. The long and the short of it is that the UK is the only member country in the EU which is also a member of the Five Eyes group which means that that data is also being shared with potentially the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (which in the long run means every man and his dog). If I was a member of the EU and cared about data security, I would be glad of the opportunity to lock down this permanent data leak by slamming that door shut next year. Sharing of intelligence files is in most country’s interest but not general information.

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree completely but decided to play it relatively straight in the headline. The original was so wonky that the idea that the problem came from the UK surveillance apparatus was absent.

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      1. notabanker

        Thanks for sorting through this rats nest of technocracy and making some sense of it. Having a little UK regulatory bureaucracy experience, I can’t help but wonder how much of this stuff is just going to be ignored for the courts to decide years later.

        The financial, data, communications spice must flow. If a token segment must be shut down it will be healthcare, because that effects everyone else.

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    2. vlade

      Oh, it IS how the EU sees it – although their security agencies still like the bits and pieces they get in exchange now and then.

      The most noise about the info sharing was actually from the UK side (MI5 etc.). I suspect one of the reasons is that this would make the UK mole in the EU way less valuable to the US.

      As an aside, the UK was always a joke re privacy and security. Technically, it had a privacy ombudsman years back. I think in 2006 we decided to travel to Caribbean. We were told by our travel agency that we’d need to send them copies of our passports, so that they can send it to the resort.

      We said no, we don’t want to. The travel agency said “but it’s normal”? I called the ombudsman, pointing out that this was in contravention of the privacy law (as the data could have gone outside the EU only in some circumstances, which clearly weren’t met). The answer was “but if it’s normal, what’s your problem?” From the people who should help to uphold the law. Right.

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    1. Ignacio

      I believe this is the quite well pointed. Besides the privacy issue (that includes the use of facial recognition by Google and Facebook) there is also the tax issue. Google must be worried.

      I was also wondering about Amazon logistics. Years ago, Amazon UK was an important logistic hub for the rest of the EU. I think that today it is no that important but yet…

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      1. vlade

        Amazon has been moving a lot of its logistics to Central Europe. I believe it built a few large hubs in Czech Republic, with aim of serving most of the Europe from there IIRC. It has problems getting people..

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      2. PlutoniumKun

        I think Amazon have based their EU HQ in Luxembourg?

        I would imagine Brexit will have huge implications for all internet deliveries, and Amazon is biggest. Sorting out the VAT issue alone could well cripple exports from UK online shops. Its not just Amazon – Wiggle is I think the biggest online sports retailer in the world, and there are many others – I use Wiggle and Chainreactioncycles and Planet X (all UK based) for my cycling needs. UK companies seem to have been well ahead of the pack in Europe in creating internet only companies.

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        1. fajensen

          Sorting out the VAT issue alone could well cripple exports from UK online shops

          They basically have to split their business into several parts, one part remains in the UK and one somewhere in the EU*. The Logistics and Data-Handling must be located on both sides of the divide, because after Brexit there is now a border and the rules will be different.

          Is there a way to be Long tax-lawyers, one wonders?

          *) I’d probably go for Czech Republic, Latvia or Slovakia since the tax regimes are very lenient there. They could also, with more work, set up a holding company in Denmark and get pretty much the same effect (except Denmark is more expensive to live in).

          Reply
  2. Ignacio

    If you look now in google trends what are the top searches on “how will brexit affect…”
    Number 1 is NHS
    Number 2 is trade
    Number 3 the economy
    Number 4 Inmigration
    Number 5 Northern Ireland

    Reply

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