UK government seeks advice on global data sharing, post-Brexit

Representatives from Google, Mastercard and Microsoft among 20 experts meeting to launch post-Brexit International Data Transfer Expert Council

Posted 25 January 2022 by Christine Horton

Academics and digital industry figures that include Google, Mastercard and Microsoft will meet for the first time today as part of a UK government plan to enable better global data sharing.

The International Data Transfer Expert Council will advise the government on free and secure cross-border data flows now the country has left the EU. Household tech and industry names are represented on the council alongside international universities and organisations such as the World Economic Forum and the Future of Privacy Forum.

The government says billions of pounds worth of trade goes unrealised around the world due to barriers associated with data transfers. As such, Data Minister Julia Lopez said realising the benefits of international data flows has never been more important.  

“We want the UK to drive forward cutting-edge policies at home and overseas to ensure people, businesses and economies benefit from safe and secure data flows,” she said.

“Today we’re launching a new panel of global experts to help us achieve these aims and I will lead the first meeting so together we can deliver a world-leading and truly global data policy for the future.”

Striking post-Brexit data deals

There are a range of mechanisms under current UK data protection law which organisations can use to transfer personal data to other countries, including standard contractual clauses and binding corporate rules. The council will advise on the development of new international data transfer tools and mechanisms and securing new data adequacy partnerships with other countries.

Now that the UK has left the EU, the government says it intends to strike deals on personal data transfers with some of its key trading partners around the world. Personal data relates to an identified or identifiable individual and includes secure transfer of information on things such as ethnic origin and IP address. 

The UK’s current priority countries include the United States, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia. It claims securing new data transfer agreements will build significantly on the annual £83 billion of data-enabled UK service exports.  

The launch of the council is part of the government’s National Data Strategy to harness the power of data to boost economic growth, create jobs and deliver new innovations for people and public services.

During its first meeting today, the council will discuss the global opportunities and challenges for international transfers and how the UK can remove barriers to cross-border data flows. This goal is that this will enable smoother and more straightforward transfers without the need for costly and often complicated contracts.

It will continue to meet quarterly covering issues such as future data adequacy partnerships, the development of new data transfer tools, and how governments can work together to promote greater trust in sharing personal data for law enforcement and national security purposes.

The Think Data for Government 2022 virtual event on March looks at some key opportunities and challenges for public bodies and their suppliers, hearing from a diverse range of exciting speakers about current thinking and best practices. Find out more here.