This is the second blog in our series of four surrounding Data Protection. "The Divorce Chapter" explains the implications in of Britain’s impending “divorce” from the EU - it's opportunities for Ireland but also it's potential downside.

Since the announcement of Brexit, Britain’s impending “divorce” from the EU, speculation has been rife as to what the actual impact will be.  In our last blog Four Little Words That Say…., which looked at the new General Data Protection Regulation, we highlighted how change can bring with it new opportunities, and at Matrix, we really believe that to be the case.

A number of international brokers, insurers, banks and other financial services companies have already taken steps towards establishing new EU hubs in cities including Frankfurt and Luxemburg and Ireland is well poised for a piece of the action.  In a practice known as Passporting, global companies are moving their headquarters out of London, and this great little country of ours presents a very attractive proposition.

But along with the opportunities, there are some potential downsides, specifically with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018.  GDPR will enhance the protection of personal data of all citizens living in the EU.  In itself, GDPR is a good thing for EU citizens.  But it’s not without its complications, particularly when we look ahead at how it might impact our day-to-day dealings with the UK and indeed other countries outside of the EU.

Brexit - britains divorce from the EU

GDPR permits personal data to be transferred from the EU to a Third Country.  Post Brexit and assuming the UK leaves the EEA, it will be reclassified as a Third Country.  Therefore to ensure the safe transfer of any personal data to a Third Country, they have to be able to demonstrate adequate or indeed superior data protection rules to those being applied across the EU.

The UK leaving the EU means that it will potentially have to create a new set of stringent data protection regulations.  Like GDPR, this in itself is a good thing.  However, with one set of rules for EU countries and another for the UK, there will be knock-on and possibly problematic consequences for companies operating in both the UK and Ireland.

The transferring, sharing or storing of any personal data between offices spanning the two jurisdictions will have to be covered by different sets of data regulation and companies will have to comply with each.   And the complications won’t end there.

When you think about all of the day-to-day dealings, interactions and touchpoints we have with the UK, the volume and indeed the inter-dependency between us is quite staggering.  From data sharing to currency fluctuations, the import and export of goods, transport and trade, border control and so many other variables, Brexit has given us all a lot to consider and the extent of the additional burden on businesses and individuals, has yet to be truly realised.

Only time will tell but there’s one thing for sure, there’s an interesting journey ahead of us and it’s only just begun.

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