World’s best data experts form government council on international data transfers

UK Government Press Release from:  Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Julia Lopez MP

  • Representatives from Google, Mastercard and Microsoft among the 20 experts meet on January 25th to launch International Data Transfer Expert Council
  • Comes as part of government ambition to unlock benefits of free and secure data flow after leaving the EU

A group of experts combining the world’s leading academics and digital industry figures, including Google, Mastercard and Microsoft, will meet for the first time to help Britain seize the opportunities of better global data sharing.

The International Data Transfer Expert Council is launching to provide independent advice to the government to help it achieve its mission of unlocking the benefits of free and secure cross-border data flows now the country has left the EU.

International data transfers underpin our everyday life and are the foundations for our most-used tech, from GPS navigation and smart devices to online banking. They are also instrumental to digital healthcare – having driven the development of treatment and vaccines during the pandemic.Removing barriers to data flows will mean these services can be provided more reliably, cheaply and securely. Billions of pounds worth of trade goes unrealised around the world due to barriers associated with data transfers.

Household tech and industry names are represented on the council alongside international universities and organisations at the forefront of this rapidly moving policy area, such as the World Economic Forum and the Future of Privacy Forum.

Data Minister Julia Lopez said:

Realising the benefits of international data flows has never been more important.  We want the UK to drive forward cutting-edge policies at home and overseas to ensure people, businesses and economies benefit from safe and secure data flows.

We are launching a new panel of global experts to help us achieve these aims and I will lead the first meeting so together we can deliver a world-leading and truly global data policy for the future.

There are a range of mechanisms under current UK data protection law which organisations can use to transfer personal data to other countries, including standard contractual clauses and binding corporate rules. The Council will give advice on the development of new international data transfer tools and mechanisms and securing new data adequacy partnerships with other countries.

Now that the UK has left the EU, the government intends to strike deals on personal data transfers with some of its key trading partners around the world. Personal data relates to an identified or identifiable individual and includes secure transfer of information on things such as ethnic origin and IP address.

The government has outlined the first countries with which it will prioritise striking data adequacy partnerships to ensure the data protection standards in the country data is being transferred to mirror the UK’s. The UK’s current priority countries include the United States, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia. Securing new data transfer agreements will build significantly on the annual £83 billion of data-enabled UK service exports.

Experts on the council have been selected from civil society, academia and industry around the world. Their experiences cover a range of areas including patient healthcare, scientific research, artificial intelligence and finance.

The launch of the council is part of the government’s ambitious National Data Strategy to harness the power of data to boost economic growth, create jobs and deliver new innovations for people and public services.

During its first meeting today, the council will discuss the global opportunities and challenges for international transfers and how the UK can be a global leader in removing barriers to cross-border data flows. This will enable smoother and more straightforward transfers without the need for costly and often complicated contracts.

It will continue to meet quarterly covering issues such as future data adequacy partnerships, the development of new data transfer tools, and how governments can work together to promote greater trust in sharing personal data for law enforcement and national security purposes.

More information on the Government’s plans for international data transfers can be found here.

Source: UK Government

Members of The International Data Transfer Expert Council are named in the press release