On February 1, 2017, Matt Hancock, the UK Government Minister responsible for data protection, was questioned by the House of Lords committee on the UK’s implementation plan of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) in the context of the UK’s looming exit from the EU. In responding to the questioning, Hancock revealed further details into the UK Government’s position on implementing the GDPR into UK law.
Importantly, Hancock (1) confirmed the UK Government’s continued support for the GDPR, in part because the UK position was sufficiently taken into consideration during negotiation of the final GDPR text, and (2) reaffirmed that the GDPR will come into effect in the UK on May 25, 2018, notwithstanding Brexit. He also clarified that some of the provisions of the existing UK Data Protection Act will need to be repealed before the application of the GDPR in May 2018 to ensure that there is no duplication or contradiction between the remaining provisions of the UK Data Protection Act and the GDPR.
In the specific context of Brexit, Hancock noted that he did not foresee any significant changes being made to UK data protection law once the UK formally withdraws from the EU. In particular, he noted that the UK would seek to implement the GDPR in full, so as to provide the UK with the greatest possible chance of securing the free flow of data between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. When asked whether the UK Government intends to seek a declaration of adequacy from the European Commission, which would permit the transfer of EU personal data to the UK without interruption, Hancock declined to provide any specific details about the arrangements that the Government would seek to put in place, other than that the UK wishes to secure unhindered and uninterrupted data flows between the UK and EU post-Brexit. Hancock also confirmed that the UK Government will seek to ensure the uninterrupted flow of data between the UK and the U.S. post-Brexit, and thus it is expected that a data transfer framework between the UK and the U.S. will be developed in furtherance of that goal.