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Data bridge formalizes UK-US data transfer

The UK and the US have agreed a framework for personal data exchange. The "Data Bridge", set to come into force on October 12 after examination by the Regulatory Policy Committee, will enable British companies to transfer data across the Atlantic without the requirement for contractual clauses.

databridge formalizes UK-US data transfer
On September 21, the UK State for Science, Innovation and Technology announced the signing of a "Data Bridge", due to come into effect on October 12.

The Databridge will formalize a UK-US data transfer agreement, enabling personal data to flow freely across the Atlantic, without the need for British companies to adopt any additional protection measures.

Before it comes into force, the Data Bridge will have to be examined by the RPC - Regulatory Policy Committee, a group of independent experts responsible for monitoring government policies, which has yet to make any improvements.

A major economic issue

The Data Bridge is the European counterpart of the E.C adequacy decision.

In the past, British companies had to set up contractual clauses for each transfer of personal data to the United States. The Data Bridge will ensure that the level of data protection transferred is now adequately guaranteed, but at a lower cost. Indeed, the economic implications of this agreement are considerable. In 2021, 93% of the UK's service exports were data-driven, and the UK exported over £79 million (around €90 million) of these services to the USA.

What guarantees does the US offer?

The announcement mentions the objective of "facilitating data flows between the two countries while ensuring strong and effective privacy protections", without specifying how this will be achieved.

Though it includes references to "trust in the digital economy" and to the OECD statement on government access to personal data held by private sector entities, there are no mentions of federal or state privacy protections.

What guarantees does the UK offer?

While discussions are taking place with European institutions at the same time, this new mechanism would be an extension of the EU-US Data Protection Framework (DPF).

This preliminary DPF is designed to reshape the former Data Protection Shield arrangement between the US and the EU, which was found unlawful in 2020 according to RGPD rules in Schrems II.

If the EU's Data Privacy Framework is invalidated, what will remain of the UK's Data Bridge?

Under the new adequacy decision authorizing EU data transfers to U.S. organizations certified, the data bridge would align the UK RGPD position with the EU RGPD.

French MoDem MP Philippe Latombe,has filed an appeal for annulment with the European Court of Justice.He is likely to be followed by Max Schrems, a member of the Austrian association Noyb, which initiated the Privacy Shield's invalidation.

If the EU's Data Privacy Framework is invalidated, what will remain of the UK's Data Bridge?

It is worth noting that since leaving the European Union, the UK has implemented a similar agreement with several countries, including South Korea. While still under a RGPD-like scheme, it wants to soften data protection rules, which would result in savings of more than £4 billion (around €46 billion) over 10 years.

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