If you have no contacts or customers in the European Union then your data protection strategy will be unaffected by Brexit. If you do hold data on EU citizens and businesses, then there may be a few steps you need to take.
At the end of 2020, the UK and European Union agreed a deadline of six months to reach a decision over whether the UK would be given “favoured nation” status in its dealings with the EU. If the UK becomes a favoured nation then personal data will be able to flow freely across borders without the need for additional safeguards.
In the meantime, during this transition period, the UK’s General Data Protection Regulations are in place, which still allow data to move across borders. As long as you are compliant with GDPR rules, which were brought in as part of the Data Protection Act 2018, you should be able to keep handling personal data in the same way you did before Brexit.
However, it is recommended that small-to-medium-sized businesses prepare for the eventuality that the UK may not become a favoured nation. The ICO has a tool to help businesses create the documents that they may need. Standard Contractual Clauses are contracts between you and the organisations that send you personal details from the EU. You need an SCC with every EU business with which you transfer data.
If you have a trading operation in the EU or an office where personal data is held then you will need to appoint a Lead Supervisory Authority in the country where the majority of that data is managed. This Lead Supervisory Authority will be your go-to if there is data breach or if a data subject makes a complaint about the processing of personal data. You can find out more about Lead Supervisory Authorities on the Information Commissioner’s Office.
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Rebecca Burn-Callander is a freelance journalist and the former Enterprise editor of the Daily Telegraph. She specialises in writing about small businesses and entrepreneurs, and is currently working on her second book: The Daily Telegraph Guide to Brexit for Business.