After a long period of negotiation, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) have reached a deal on the sharing of personal data, only a few days before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The agreed trade deal allows for the continued free flow of personal data from the EU to the UK for a maximum of six months after the transition period expires. During that time, the UK hopes that the European Commission will issue an adequacy decision in relation to the UK, thus allowing the free flow of personal data to continue beyond the six months. In relation to transfers of personal data outside the UK, the UK has already deemed adequate the 30 EU/European Economic Area countries and the 12 countries that have received EU adequacy decisions, as mentioned in our previous blog post (available here).

In a statement released on 28 December 2020 (available here), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) welcomed the extension and noted the benefits it will bring to businesses and public bodies across all sectors, including law enforcement agencies, as they will be able to continue to share data freely, without having to make changes to their data protection practices.

In the same statement, the ICO also recommended that, before and during the six-month period, UK businesses work with EU organisations that transfer personal data to them, to put in place alternative transfer mechanisms, such as standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules (if applicable). The ICO noted that this is a sensible precaution to safeguard against any potential interruptions to the free flow of personal data from the EU to the UK.

The ICO will be soon updating its guidance in light of the agreed trade deal, to ensure that businesses know what to do next. We will, of course, update you once we know more. Keep an eye on our blog for further guidance!