How will Brexit impact data protection? All you need to know.

Jan 23rd '17

If you’re tired of hearing about Brexit and its ramifications – you could be forgiven. But aside from some of the more obvious changes it will bring about, there are a lot of implications that you might not have considered.

How will Brexit impact data protection?

Data protection is something that every digital marketer needs to be on top of.  From a best practice point of view as well as from a regulatory compliance point of view.

If you want to avoid breaching laws and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requirements, you need to make sure you use client and prospect data compliantly.

Recent changes have moved the data protection goalposts

Even without Brexit, marketers in the EU and US have seen shifting sands recently.

Until late 2015, an agreement called Safe Harbor regulated the flow of personal data between the EU and US. It prevented data being shared with a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) unless that country could demonstrate adequate protection measures – and in practice, largely covered EU/US data sharing.

However…when former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked classified information, it was a wake-up call for the EU to tighten existing regulations, as it highlighted the vulnerability of data, even within the Safe Harbor arrangements.

In October 2015, the European Court of Justice found US compliance with the Safe Harbour agreement wanting, and invalidated the agreement. A new ‘Privacy Shield’ agreement – essentially a tighter version of the requirements under Safe Harbor – was announced in February 2016 and is currently being worked up by European and US officials.

Hello, GPDR

In the meantime, to fill (or partly fill) the gap that this left in data protection, the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in December 2015. In this blog, we look in more detail at what the GDPR is and how it will affect your marketing and financial promotions.

The GDPR doesn’t come into force until March 2018. But given the work involved, many firms are already moving towards adopting its requirements. It has the potential to cause a headache for marketers – in regulated firms and elsewhere – as Perivan Technology explore in this blog asking will GDPR be the next PPI scandal?

Brexit adds more complexity

And just to make marketers’ lives a little more complicated, we have Brexit in the mix. The UK’s decision to leave the EU means that there are questions over whether the GDPR will apply to UK firms – and how it will affect our agreements with the US and other countries we share data with.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine summarises some of the questions that need to be answered in the face of the UK’s departure from the EU:

  • Will the Privacy Shield agreement need to be separately negotiated with the UK?
  • And will the EU need to negotiate a new agreement with the UK similar to the one in place with the US? If so, when would that happen?
  • Is there a chance the UK might find itself flagged by the EU as a jurisdiction with inadequate privacy laws?
  • Will data transfers between the UK and the US have to undergo scrutiny from the EU because personal data from citizens of EU member states might be included?
  • Will Privacy Shield be put on hold while the EU and the UK negotiate the withdrawal? If so, what framework will govern transatlantic data transfers in the meantime?

So – what next?

For UK marketers, the advice seems to be to plough on with meeting the GDPR requirements. With a full Brexit not imminent, and the regulations coming into force next year, there’s every chance that UK marketers will still need to comply with them.

And even if they don’t, the new requirements form a structured and comprehensive basis for best practice data management. Some of the requirements may seem onerous – but in fact, will have benefits for marketing.

For example:

  • The need for opt-ins, rather than opt-outs will mean that everyone you send information to (although maybe a much reduced number) will be interested in your content
  • There will be far less ‘wastage’ in marketing as a result: percentage engagement statistics should go through the roof. And after all, who wants to waste their time talking to people who aren’t interested?
  • Firms that produce engaging content and relevant material will steal a march on less disciplined competitors. In a world where prospects and customers have to proactively agree to receiving your information, if you have the best content, you’re the clear winner.
  • Fine-tune your content marketing strategy and you will be ahead of the pack.

As a result of Brexit, increasing regulation and changes to accepted practice, regulated marketers face significant change.

So what else is new, you might ask? Change has always been a constant in the world of marketing. For now:

  • Familiarise yourself with the GDPR
  • Make sure your data protection processes are set up to meet its requirements
  • Carry on complying with the UK’s domestic marketing and financial services regulation, as set by local and EU laws and the FCA

Source: Perivan Technology

You can make sure your activity is compliant with all the current regulations with our Bespoke Financial Promotion review.

Have you an opinion on the above or got an article you wish to share? We’re love to hear from you. Email us today.