The British Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, announced on September 21 the signing of a “Data Bridge” between the United Kingdom and the United States, whose entry into force is scheduled for October 12. This new text allows for easier circulation of personal data across the Atlantic. UK businesses do not need to take additional protective measures.
Before coming into effect, the Data Bridge will need to be reviewed by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), a group of independent experts responsible for monitoring government policies. “Improvements need to be made“, he wrote this Friday, September 22.
Costly contractual clauses
In the absence of a Data Bridge, the European equivalent of an adequacy decision, British companies had to establish contractual clauses for each transfer of personal data to the United States. Costly but necessary, the objective of this legal instrument is to ensure that the level of protection is sufficiently high in the receiving country.
The economic risks of this agreement are significant. In fact, in 2021, 93% of UK services exports were data-driven and the UK exported more than £79 million (around €90 million) of these services to the United States. “International collaboration is key to our science and technology superpower ambitions, and working with global partners like the United States ensures we can unlock new opportunities to grow our innovation economy.“said Chloe Smith, former British Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, during the discussions.
An extension of the new Privacy Shield
This new agreement is based on “a British extension” of the agreement between the European Union and the United States, called “Data Privacy Framework”, adopted in July 2023 by the European Commission. Successor of the famous Privacy Shield, it guarantees that the level of protection of personal data is at least equivalent to that of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Just months after its entry into force, its existence is already being questioned. MoDem deputy Philippe Latombe, in his capacity as a citizen, filed an appeal for annulment before the Court of Justice of the European Union. He should be followed by the activist Max Schrems, member of the Austrian association Noyb, behind the invalidation of the Privacy Shield. If the Data Privacy Framework is cancelled, what remains of the UK Data Bridge?
Since leaving the Union, the United Kingdom has put in place a similar agreement with several countries, including South Korea. Even under a regime close to the GDPR, it wants to relax data protection rules, which would save more than £4 billion (about €46 billion) over 10 years.
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