Privacy Updates: Positive Signs for UK Adequacy and New SCCs

February 03, 2021

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provided breathing room for businesses engaging in data transfers from the EU to the UK in the form of a ‘bridging period’ of up to six months where such transfers can continue uninterrupted (see our previous OnPoint here). However, the longer term goal of an adequacy decision for the UK is still key to ensuring free flows of personal data between the EU and the UK.

In the last week, positive sounds have been made by both the UK and the EU. According to Joe Jones (Head of International Data Transfer Regime at the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), who was speaking at a City of London Corporation’s International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) Data Workstream meeting, the European Commission has already produced a draft adequacy decision. Bruno Gencarelli (Jones’ counterpart at the European Commission) has also given an update on timing, saying at an IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals) event that the intention is to “launch the decision in the coming weeks”.

While encouraging, businesses still need to bear in mind that there is no guarantee the decision will be approved in time. The European Commission still needs to share the draft decision with the European Data Protection Board for its opinion as well as then get majority approval from representatives of each EU member state government. Businesses should continue to monitor progress and consider whether fall-back measures may need to be put in place to guard against any adequacy gap.

With respect to the new standard contractual clauses (“SCCs”), Gencarelli indicated that the timeline for adoption of the new SCCs is around March. These new SCCs should assist non-EEA data exporters in particular as they specifically cater for this scenario. Unless amended as a result of the consultation process, following the adoption of the new SCCs businesses will have one year to take on the exercise of transitioning from the current SCCs to the new ones for their existing contracts. For more information on the new SCCs in their draft form see our previous Newsflash here.

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