On June 28, 2021, the European Commission adopted two decisions finding that the UK’s data protection regime provides an “adequate” level of protection for personal data transferred to the UK from the EU.  The first decision covers transfers governed by the GDPR, and permits private companies located in the EU to continue to transfer personal data to the UK without the need for additional arrangements (such as the Commission’s new Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”), which we discuss here).  The second decision covers transfers under the Data Protection and Law Enforcement Directive, and permits EU law enforcement agencies to continue to transfer personal data to their counterparts in the UK.
Continue Reading European Commission Adopts Final UK Adequacy Decisions

On February 19, 2021, the European Commission published two draft decisions finding that UK law provides an adequate level of protection for personal data.  The first would allow private companies in the EU to continue to transfer personal data to the UK without the need for any additional safeguards (e.g., the Commission’s standard contractual clauses), while the second would allow EU law enforcement agencies to transfers personal data subject to Directive 2016/680 — the Data Protection and Law Enforcement Directive (LED) — to their UK counterparts.

Continue Reading European Commission Publishes Draft UK Adequacy Decisions

On December 24th, with a year-end deadline and the holidays fast approaching, European Commission and United Kingdom (“UK”) officials announced they reached a deal on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“Agreement”).  Once formally adopted by the European Union (“EU”) institutions, the Agreement will govern the relationship between the EU and UK beginning on January 1, 2021, following the end of the Brexit transition period.

The Agreement is likely to avert a year-end scramble to secure cross-border data transfers between the EU and the UK.  Although the final text has not yet been published, a UK government summary of the deal indicates that the parties agreed to allow for the continued free flow of personal data for up to six months to allow time for the EU and UK to adopt mutual “adequacy decisions,” in which each jurisdiction may recognize the other as offering adequate protection for transferred personal data.  Absent these adequacy decisions (and the interim period established by the Agreement), organizations would need to consider implementing additional safeguards, such as standard contractual clauses, to transfer personal data between the EU and UK.
Continue Reading Brexit Deal Keeps EU-UK Data Flows Open as Parties Pursue Mutual Adequacy

In April 2019, the UK Government published its Online Harms White Paper and launched a Consultation. In February 2020, the Government published its initial response to that Consultation. In its 15 December 2020 full response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government outlined its vision for tackling harmful content online through a new regulatory framework, to be set out in a new Online Safety Bill (“OSB”).

This development comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of, and regulatory changes to, digital services and markets. Earlier this month, the UK Competition and Markets Authority published recommendations to the UK Government on the design and implementation of a new regulatory regime for digital markets (see our update here).

The UK Government is keen to ensure that policy initiatives in this sector are coordinated with similar legislation, including those in the US and the EU. The European Commission also published its proposal for a Digital Services Act on 15 December, proposing a somewhat similar system for regulating illegal online content that puts greater responsibilities on technology companies.

Key points of the UK Government’s plans for the OSB are set out below.


Continue Reading UK Government Plans for an Online Safety Bill

On February 12, 2020, the UK Home Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport published the Government’s Initial Consultation Response (“Response”) to feedback received through a public consultation on its Online Harms White Paper (“OHWP”).  The OHWP, published in April 2019, proposed a comprehensive regulatory regime that would impose a “duty of care” on online services to moderate a wide spectrum of harmful content and activity on their services, including child sexual abuse material, terrorist content, hate crimes, and harassment.

While the Response does not indicate when the Government expects to introduce proposed legislation, it provides clearer direction on a number of aspects of the proposed regulatory framework set out in the OHWP, including:
Continue Reading UK Government Publishes Initial Consultation Response on the Online Harms White Paper

On February 4, 2020, the United Kingdom’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (“DEI”) published its final report on “online targeting” (the “Report”), examining practices used to monitor a person’s online behaviour and subsequently customize their experience.  In October 2018, the UK government appointed the DEI, an expert committee that advises the UK government on how to maximize the benefits of new technologies, to explore how data is used in shaping peoples’ online experiences. The Report sets out its findings and recommendations.
Continue Reading Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation Publishes Final Report on “Online Targeting”