The incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect British and multi-national companies regardless of the EU referendum result, and some big firms have announced their intentions to abide by the law whatever the outcome.
Iain Bourne, group manager at the Information Commissioner's Office, said during a panel discussion at Infosecurity Europe in London that UK organisations will have to abide by the GDPR, or very similar UK legislation, if the country stays in or leaves the EU.
“There will be some kind of information rights law just as there is in any other developed economy. I think that’s become a reality of life,” he said.
Bourne explained that UK and international companies need to work with data that passes across national borders, particularly given that the EU is a lucrative market for digital companies.
Nina Barakzai, group head of data protection and privacy at Sky, underlined this point, saying that the company will stick to GDPR to ensure that it can operate in a single legal framework.
“We are operating in multiple territories and across various activities, and we need to have free flow of data across all of our boundaries so we can continue doing our business,” she said.
“If we want to do it lawfully, it doesn’t really matter if the Brexit is going to happen or not. We want to make sure we comply with our laws and those of the countries where we have employees and engagement. I don’t think there will be any difference for us. We have to do things the right way.”
Quentyn Taylor, director of EMEA information security at Canon, agreed. “I think we will have to [adopt GDPR] because we've got data centres all over Europe. We've got data transfers that happen across huge numbers of counties and at the moment we just accept that as a part of doing business,” he said.
“If we do exit and we then have a separate regulatory framework here, it will have a huge impact on any multinational.”
Lawyers have also said that the GDPR will be enforced in the UK regardless of the EU vote, urging firms to prepare for its implementation rather than hoping it won't be a problem.
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