Insights Information Commissioner posts blog on data protection aspects of the UK-EU Trade Co-operation Agreement (TCA)


Ms Denham stresses the crucial role international agreements play in the digital world and the importance of the data protection provisions in the TCA. She notes that the TCA contains both short term provisions, allowing data to continue to flow from the EU to the UK, and long-term commitments, such as to maintaining high standards of data protection. Key points include:

  • high standards and co-operation: Ms Denham welcomes the commitment by both the EU and UK to ensuring a high level of personal data protection, and to working together to promote high international standards; she says that she looks forward to developing “a new regulatory relationship with European data protection authorities, sharing ideas and data protection expertise and co-operating on enforcement actions where appropriate”; in Ms Denham’s view, “regulatory cooperation remains key to ensuring we can protect the public’s personal data wherever it resides”’; the ICO will also continue to develop its international strategy;
  • data flows: short term bridging provisions and adequacy: Ms Denham notes that the TCA contains “an important safety net”, so that transfers of data from the EU to UK can continue without restriction for four months whilst the EU considers the UK’s application for adequacy; this was “the best possible outcome for UK organisations given the risks and impacts of no adequacy”’; this bridge will provide a “legally robust mechanism that can give UK organisations confidence to continue digital trade in the coming months”; the EU has also committed (in a Declaration alongside the TCA) to consider promptly the UK’s adequacy application; the Government is taking the lead on that process, with the ICO providing independent regulatory advice when appropriate; the ICO publish more details in due course as the outcome of the adequacy process becomes clear; Ms Denham stresses that, whilst we wait for an adequacy decision, for the bridge to continue any new UK adequacy regulations, standard contractual clauses or ICO approvals of international transfer mechanisms must be put before the TCA’s oversight mechanisms; and
  • data flows: keeping us safe: Ms Denham notes that part three of the TCA sets out detailed provisions allowing data sharing for law enforcement; it includes arrangements for the transfer of DNA data, fingerprints, vehicle registrations and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data; it also allows for the UK to access data from EUROPOL and EUROJUST; part three also contains important commitments to key elements of data protection and for the ICO to be consulted about data protection assessments related to PNR data.

To read Ms Denham’s blog post in full, click here.