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What does data protection look like post Brexit?

Data protection has been a hot topic in recent years, ever since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the EU in 2016 and was rolled out across all EU states in May 2018.

Why did we adopt GDPR?

GDPR was an important step to help protect people's privacy online, by moving from data protection guidelines into legislation: basically, it established data protection laws for the first time.

As an EU member, the UK adopted GDPR along with all other EU countries. But, as Brexit becomes a reality, we will soon no longer be part of the EU. What does this mean for GDPR and data protection in the future?

After Brexit, will we drop GDPR?

Once we leave the EU there will be huge amounts of paperwork for the government. It's unlikely that it will seek to change existing laws and regulations unless they directly affect how we will be doing business with other countries post-Brexit.

Besides, GDPR is generally a good thing. While almost every business had to manage the headaches of moving to be GDPR compliant last year, the work should now be complete. And the purpose behind the law is a positive one – to protect the public from having its data exploited.

In addition, the EU has been pretty clear that if the UK is to trade with the single market, it needs to demonstrate data standards that are equivalent to GDPR.

How does this work in other non-EU countries?

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are non-EU countries, but to benefit from free trade agreements they too have had to implement GDPR. Switzerland has a separate agreement with the EU, but as part of this its data protection laws have to mirror the GDPR.

Meanwhile, the USA has updated its data privacy agreements, and US companies recognise that if they are interacting with the EU on data, they need to meet the same security standards.

So GDPR is here to stay?

All the signs are that the UK will continue to respect GDPR, along with many other laws that originated in the EU. How it might evolve and change in the decades to come, however, is undecided. As with almost everything that relates to Brexit, it's largely unclear… we'll have to wait and see!

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