The UK will most likely mirror the EU's data protection legislation, despite the decision to leave the European Union in yesterday's referendum, meaning that the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will not directly apply to the UK.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said in a statement that, while the Data Protection Act remains the law of the land irrespective of the referendum result, the upcoming GDPR will not apply directly to the UK once it has left the EU.
However, the ICO emphasised that the UK will have to prove "adequacy" if it wants to trade with the Single Market on equal terms. In other words, UK data protection standards will have to be equivalent to the GDPR from 2018.
"With so many businesses and services operating across borders, international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial to businesses and organisations and to consumers and citizens. The ICO's role has always involved working closely with regulators in other countries, and that would continue to be the case," the ICO said.
The statement added that clear laws with safeguards are now needed more than ever because of a growing digital economy, and that the ICO will tell the government that reform of the UK law remains necessary.
Peter Galdies, development director at data governance, risk and compliance firm DQM GRC, suggested that it will be a number of years before the UK's exit from the EU affects the legislative framework for privacy.
"After Article 50 is invoked, which gives our official 'notice' to leave the EU (which now looks likely to be after October 2016), there will be a mandatory two-year minimum period in which we remain a member of the EU while we negotiate an exit," he said.
"During this time all existing legislation (including GDPR) will continue as before. Many forecast that this process might take much longer - with many estimates between three and six years."
Galdies explained that companies managing, storing or processing personal data relating to EU clients, prospects or employees must continue to do so regardless of Brexit or risk large fines.
"For many organisations nothing will change. The GDPR will apply even when we leave," he said.
Galdies believes that the UK will eventually adopt legislation directly modelled on the GDPR.
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