Tory GDPR pledge a threat to basic cross-border activity: O’Toole

brexit matthew o'toole GDPR Cross-border

The Tory conference pledge to create a British system of data equivalence threatens a huge range of basic cross-border activity, SDLP leader of the opposition and Brexit spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said.

Creating a UK-only system of data equivalence for companies, Government and third sector organisations could have a devastating impact on a huge range of every day cross-border commercial and social life – as well as the delivery of public services.

The vast range of potential disruption could include payroll services for this island’s tens of thousands of cross-border frontier workers, whether vital personal data can be held and used in the delivery of cross-border healthcare, right through to how all-island bodies such as churches, trade unions and sporting organisations hold information on their membership.

Yesterday at the chaotic Tory conference in Birmingham, the culture secretary Michelle Donellan promised to create a British system of data equivalence, which could ultimately jeopardise the basic post-Brexit data adequacy protections agreed between the UK and EU in 2021.

Reacting to the proposal, Matthew O’Toole MLA said:

“While the focus has been on the Protocol, largely thanks to DUP and British Government distortion, the damaging impacts of Brexit in a whole range of other areas pile up.

“Data protection laws are a fundamental part of how businesses, Governments and civil society have to operate in the digital age. If the Tories force through a pointlessly divergent UK data regime it could threaten a vast range of everyday activity on a north-south basis.

“As the SDLP has repeatedly said, the Protocol only protects some north-south activity, but the hard Brexit fantasy projects of the Truss Government threaten a whole series of others. From payroll services to cross-border workers, to healthcare, to a whole gamut of north-south investment and economic activity, to the simply everyday activities of sporting bodies, churches and trade unions – if data cannot move freely between north and south it will be devastating.”

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