ICO issues guidance in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit

With additional measure likely to be placed upon the flow of data from the EEA, the UK's regulator urges businesses to be ready

The Information Commissioner's Office has urged businesses to "prepare for all scenarios" with the on-going Brexit negotiations.

The UK's data watchdog has published a guidance sheet to help "small to medium sized organisations" should the country leave the EU without a deal.

The guidance is similar to previously published documents on maintaining data flows, but it has been tweaked to be more relevant and accessible to smaller organisations.

The Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said it was crucial that organisations make sure they "properly prepare for all scenarios" regarding Brexit.

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"If your organisation sends or receives personal information to countries in the EU, our guidance will help you work out whether you need to take steps now, what you need to do to prepare, and then let you get back to running your business," she said.

"Even if you think your organisation doesn't transfer data internationally, I'd urge you to read what we've produced and assess whether you need to act."

Data flows between the EU member states and the UK is increasingly vital for business supply chains and governments. The sharing of customer, citizen and employee data helps many organisations function and also plays a big role in the delivery of public services.

Currently, personal data flow is unrestricted because the UK is still a member of the European Union. However, with a 'no deal' scenario a big possibility, the EU law will require additional measures to be put in place when personal data is transferred from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK, in order to make them lawful.

In the ICO's guidance, companies are advised to use pre-approved contract terms, along with a number of other steps, if they wish to continue to transfer data to and from the EEA.

"It is in everyone's interests that appropriate exchanges of personal data continue whatever the outcome of Brexit," Denham said in a blog post. "The ICO will carry on co-operating internationally to ensure protections are in place for personal data and organisations have the right advice and guidance."

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