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The Cloud Over Brexit

Brexit could throw UK-EU data-sharing in jeopardy under a No Deal scenario.

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Brexit could throw UK-EU data-sharing in jeopardy under a No Deal scenario.

Opinions

The Cloud Over Brexit

Brexit could throw UK-EU data-sharing in jeopardy under a No Deal scenario.

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After over two years of Brexit discussions and negotiations, we are seemingly no closer to reaching an agreement that we have been searching for. Even with an agreement in place for EU workers, businesses and trade, one area that has been neglected by politicians and the media is the flow of data.

Whilst the focus has understandably been elsewhere there has been very little discussion over the flow of data between the UK and the EU.

If we are going to continue to see data flowing freely across borders as now, we will need the EU to give us the kind of adequacy deal it has already granted to 12 other non-EU countries - but it isn't clear how quickly that would happen.

So far, the EU has not extended the same 'Adequacy Agreement' to the UK as it has previously done with other states such as Norway and Switzerland for purposes of data management.

While there is mention of maintaining data standards in the so called Draft Agreement that UK prime minister Theresa May has thus far spectacularly failed to pass through Parliament, this only applies to a transition period covered by that Agreement.

The longer we go without a deal in place the higher the risk we will be running of not being able to get this agreement in place in time. Not only if there is no-deal but if the deal is agreed at the eleventh-hour, time may be too tight to fully prepare for a seamless transition.

It is important to consider how data will be transferred post Brexit, including flow of direction and how this effects all parties. For example, it is not the responsibility of cloud service providers to keep data stored in the same country as the customer unless specified; it may be stored nearby but more often than not, it will be found only where it is convenient for the provider.

The question is how quickly the data can then be provided to the customer. If it is stored in the UK, this may be less of a problem for a UK company, but if it were to be stored in the EU, the US or Australia the data access is likely to more far more of a problem.

This problem becomes especially relevant in the case of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on March 29th. Without a deal in place, breaks in the accessibility of data is a real possibility.

GDPR and other changes to data laws by the EU in future create a new obstacle that, as with most data problems, is without precedent. If the EU and UK don’t match their data protection legislation in future, limits on accessing data stored outside of the UK may come into effect.

Professional services need to be planning ahead of Brexit and the ensuing transition period in terms of ensuring that their data is safe and secure for the future of trading. Firms should consider solutions such as private servers and contractual agreements to combat this uncertainty and continue providing their services safely to their clients - deal or no deal.

The most sure-fire way to get around the problem is to deploy a private cloud infrastructure that enables a heightened level of access and knowledge surrounding the source of the firm’s and its respective clients’ data. Private cloud servers put the power over data back into the hands of businesses and individuals.

With solutions such as these, the vital data that requires backing up and securing can be stored in a place where it can easily be kept track of. The storage in that case is then in one place for the long-term.

This not only helps data accessibility, but also the cyber security of firms that rely on large amounts of data. Knowing exactly where the data is held goes a long way towards protecting from data breaches. In recent years personal data has come under constant attack from hackers looking to profit from the details of customers and app users.

This ranges from personal to payment details coming from normally trustworthy sources such as British Airways or Marriott Hotels. The tide of data being stolen only seems to be gaining momentum with little being done to combat this wave of companies succumbing to hackers.

Businesses and individuals alike need to be planning ahead of potential hacks and the ensuing data breaches, ensuring that their data is safe and secure for the future.

The ambiguity of terms such as the cloud gives the impression that this vitally important data is stored all around us, whereas in reality it is stored in remote locations, often totally unknown to customers. In the end, preparation and awareness are the real keys, having solutions in place ahead of the problem is the best way to get around it.

Paolo Sartori is managing director of tech infrastructure specialists TransWorldCom.

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The Cloud Over Brexit

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