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The Panel Discussion on “Brexit and Data Protection”
The second panel was introduced by Susan Daly (the Journal), who moderated a vibrant discussion featuring John Quinn (DCU), Mike Harris (Grant Thornton), Colin Rooney (Arthur Cox) and Prof. Tuomas Ojanen (University of Helsinki).
The debate was opened by Colin Rooney, who gave a brief presentation on how his company helps businesses to prepare in the area of data transfers. It cannot be taken for granted that the UK will apply the GDPR, therefore it is necessary to imagine other solutions. A short term solution could be contractual clauses, while a much stable and longer arrangement could be the so-called “binding corporate rules”, even if they take a lot of time to be concluded. Mike Harris, from Grant Thornton, added that at the moment there are two choices for the UK: the “data protection side” is hopeful of a quasi-membership under EU law which would not treat UK as a third country, while the other side wish the opposite, namely no implementation of EU data protection laws. Then, Dr. John Quinn from DCU underlined that it is going to be difficult for the UK to navigate in the area of data protection after Brexit, and that they will find particularly difficult to “take back control” in a globalized world of personal data transfers.
Finally, Tuomas Ojanen, Professor of Constitutional Law from the University of Helsinki, observed that focusing on data protection is reductive and it will be necessary to take into consideration also the UK security and intelligence sharing services. Moreover, he highlighted the fact that the UK will have to respect the minimum standard on privacy as provided by the European Convention of Human Rights, even when the UK will exit the European Union.