Brexit doesn’t have to mean bad news

light map of europe at night

By George Sanger, Regional Director, Pulsant

Since the result of the referendum there’s hardly been a day that’s gone by without a Brexit-related headline. And rightly so; the process of extricating ourselves from the EU was never going to be an easy one. But, with the looming exit date coming up in March next year, there are still far more questions than answers. Little progress has been made on clearing up the important issues of immigration, trade and legislation, and both businesses and individuals are being affected.

We’ve all seen the immediate impact of Brexit; in the months following the vote we began paying more for our shopping, especially food. Moving on from that, businesses have begun the daunting task of preparing for life after Brexit, despite the lack of clarity on what that will realistically look like.

As a hybrid cloud specialist, where data is the lifeblood of our customers, we’ve been working on answering many of these questions around data transfer across borders, data sovereignty and privacy. The tricky part is that the situation is unfolding daily and with increasing intensity as the timeframe looms. But there is no real need to panic, especially when it comes to IT, infrastructure and data.

The key moving forward is self-awareness and being prepared, so that when the landscape changes and new laws and codes of conduct are developed, you are well placed to meet those requirements and not fall behind.

A key example is GDPR. While it is an EU regulation, its principles are sound and have made organisations more aware of data protection and privacy issues, and the compliance that is needed. In preparing your business for Brexit you need to ask yourself a few questions – including:

  • Where is my data held?
  • Who is storing my data?
  • What data is being transacted?
  • Where is the data being transacted?

Also consider data adequacy, which is granted by the European Commission to countries outside the European Economic Area who provide “a level of personal data protection that is “essentially equivalent” to that provided in European law”. If you are transferring data between the UK and the EU, you can Brexit-proof the transfers by lining up a few safeguards to ensure you have that adequacy in place. Again, this ties back to GDPR; many of the steps and best practices are the same.

While the UK may not be able to get a decision on this until it’s designed its new legal framework, the fact remains the government is committed to ensuring the stability of data transfer as it is vital for many sectors.

In a positive step, the UK government’s recently published whitepaper highlights the need for getting this right:

“…the government recognised the need for data stability and highlighted an ongoing EU consultation about the free flow of data, which includes considering whether legislation is necessary to limit member states’ requirements for data to be stored nationally.

The government said the European Commission is able to recognise data protection standards in third countries as being essentially equivalent to those in the EU, which means EU companies can transfer data to those countries freely.”

The impact of Brexit will be felt long after March 2019. Importantly, when it comes to data, it’s important to work with your cloud or hosting provider to answer those questions around storage and transactions. It’s this collaboration, and the expertise of your provider that can help you prepare for this new environment, and ensure you’re not playing catch up once the way forward is finalised.

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