GDPR Brexit

Brexit and GDPR? The Answer is in the Regulation

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Brexit will negate UK businesses from having to comply with the GDPR? Well, as long as there are also Flat Earthers and Young Earth Creationists I’d say that there’s enough ignorance out there to ensure that there are plenty of them.

The Brexit vote debacle itself showed just how pervasive ignorance is in the UK for example, as evidenced by the number of people who Googled “What is the EU?” the day after the vote. Stupidity I can forgive, it’s not a choice, ignorance is. Or as Harlan Ellison puts it so perfectly:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

And when a weapons-grade plum (thank you @sueperkins) like Donald Trump is in favour of a decision, you know you’ve f&%$ed up.

But enough judgement, the answer to whether or not UK businesses will need to comply with the GDPR is written in the Regulation itself. Anyone who has actually read it probably has the words “third country” floating around in their heads right about now. Why? Because post-Brexit that’s exactly what the UK will be to the EU; a third country.

Every country in the EU has signed up to adopt the GDPR into their individual national laws in order to enforce it in the exact same way. From the creation of supervisory authorities with identical tasks and powers, to approved codes of conduct, to the imposition of penalties, every EU country ‘trusts’ every other EU country by default. Further, if for any reason two countries disagree on something, the Board can step in and sort it out per Articles 63 (Consistency mechanism) and 65 (Dispute resolution by the Board).

None of this will apply to third countries, who will need to demonstrate what the GDPR calls an “adequate level of data protection” in order to enjoy the freedoms of data processing and movement that EU countries will receive automatically. This is spelled out very clearly in Recital 103:

The Commission may decide with effect for the entire Union that a third country, a territory or specified sector within a third country, or an international organisation, offers an adequate level of data protection, thus providing legal certainty and uniformity throughout the Union as regards the third country or international organisation which is considered to provide such level of protection. In such cases, transfers of personal data to that third country or international organisation may take place without the need to obtain any further authorisation. The Commission may also decide, having given notice and a full statement setting out the reasons to the third country or international organisation, to revoke such a decision.

In other words, the Commission can, as long as the third country has met certain criteria, give blanket approval for that country to do business as usual within the EU.

Simple logic therefore dictates, that the criteria must fully comply with the GDPR, and every business must meet the GDPR baselines in their entirety.

The criteria are broken out in Article 45(2) [edited for length]:

When assessing the adequacy of the level of protection, the Commission shall, in particular, take account of the following elements:

(a) the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, relevant legislation, both general and sectoral [edited]

(b) the existence and effective functioning of one or more independent supervisory authorities in the third country or to which an international organisation is subject [edited]

(c) the international commitments the third country or international organisation concerned has entered into, or other obligations arising from legally binding conventions or instruments as well as from its participation in multilateral or regional systems, in particular in relation to the protection of personal data.

In other words, as long as ALL of the laws, judicial systems, supervisory authorities, contractual obligations etc. are at or above the levels mandated by the GDPR, that third country is good to go.

Here in the UK this will hopefully not be an issue. The ICO is the supervisory authority and the upcoming amendments to the Data Protection Act should more than cover the GDPR adequacy requirement. So as long as UK businesses comply fully with the DPA, they should not have to provide any further evidence of compliance to EU countries.

However, there are many who believe that the because of things like the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (a.k.a. Snooper’s Charter), that the UK is at serious risk of not qualifying for the adequacy decision. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Bottom line here is that if you are sitting on your arse waiting for the ICO to tell you what to do, you are setting yourself for some very unnecessary pain. The initial preparations for GDPR/DPA are as simple as they are obvious, and well within the reach of every organisation out there. Whether or not your country receives an adequacy decision, your organisation will need to comply. Nothing has changed.

You do not need to understand your legal basis for processing in order to perform either a data discovery exercise or a business process mapping, both of which you should be doing already. I’d get on with it if I were you.

It’s not doing the wrong thing unintentionally that will piss the supervisory authorities off the most, it’s doing nothing at all.

[If you liked this article, please share! Want more like it, subscribe!]

What Will Brexit Mean for Cybersecurity?

No idea.

But let’s be honest, everyone will be making wild speculations at this point, just as ‘experts’ in every other field will be. The only thing for certain, is that the UNcertainty will be used by security vendors to try to scare UK companies into buying something.

This one is unrelated, but is actually very good and you should read it first; Brexit: The Implications for the Insurance Industry.

Two of the pending EU laws in the pipeline that will be most cited are the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While both of these do not relate to information security per se, security is an enormously important component of each, and penalties will be commensurate with the egregiousness of the data misuse/loss.

The UK would have had to make these law within the next 2 -3 years, but now what? If we’re not IN the EU, do we have to follow the EU rules? Can’t we just do our own thing, like the US?

Well yes, we could, all we’d have to do is adopt something like Safe Harbor and all EU countries would be more than happy to do business with us. Right?

I don’t think so somehow.

Clearly the UK would never put itself in that position [praying silently], and seeing as both PSD2 and GDPR are fully supported by the UK, I would very much doubt any UK-only law would be markedly different. But ANY difference will still complicate things for UK businesses. It will likely require UK organisations to be far more pro-active in the demonstration of their compliance than would otherwise be necessary.

And if there’s one thing that no organisation I have ever come across is good at, it’s the demonstration of good security practices.

Not one.

Luckily for us, there is absolutely nothing in ANY regulation of which I am aware that requires anything more than ‘appropriate’ controls. From the GDPR for example; “Personal data should be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security and confidentiality of the personal data, including for preventing unauthorised access to or use of personal data and the equipment used for the processing.

This is the greatest thing about my chosen career; Information security cares nothing for law, regulation, compliance, geography, or politics, it’s about a piece of data, on a computer, that someone wants to steal. Everything else is just reporting.

However, getting to the point where the demonstration of compliance is business as usual, is extremely difficult. Not complicated, just difficult. It’s actually very simple, all you have to do is get the CEO/BoD to care about it and it will happen. Easy, right?

UK organisations had 2 years from May 25th to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR, now [potentially] they have to demonstrate their equivalent compliance to every EU business with whom they want to transact. And you thought answering RFPs was bad now!

Nothing will change anytime soon, but in the meantime, just do what you know you should have doing all along, but start now.

Don’t know how, ask.