12 October 2020
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has written to the European Commission alerting its of its legal obligation to limit EU data transfers to the UK after Brexit, because of problems at the UK’s privacy watchdog failure to protect data rights.
Adding to the tension in the Brexit negotiations, £85 bn of UK digital exports to the EU will now be at risk.
Dr Johnny Ryan, ICCL Senior Fellow, said:
“13% of the UK’s global trade relies on using EU personal data. This is now in jeopardy because of the dismal record of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to enforce the GDPR and protect our rights. The European Commission’s hands are tied by the law, and it cannot allow the UK to enjoy frictionless data transfers after Brexit until it is safe for our data to be processed in the UK.”
The ICCL letter is also copied to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and other senior EU figures. Negotiations are increasingly fraught after the ninth round and this issue will highlight yet again how interwoven the UK and EU are, and how complicated and arduous unpicking that will continue to be.
The UK ICO has failed to act on the largest data breach ever reported to it: “Real-Time Bidding” (RTB). RTB operates behind-the-scenes on virtually every website and app, and constantly broadcasts the private things that people do and watch online, and where they are in the real world, to countless companies. There is no way of limiting what then happens to these data, as illustrated by the ICCL’s recent evidence that RTB data was used to profile 1.4 million LGBTQ people in Poland in order to influence the Polish Parliamentary Elections last year.
Dr Ryan blew the whistle to the ICO about the RTB crisis in January 2018, when he was employed in an RTB company. Despite confirming the scale of the problem, the ICO took no action. It has also failed to deliver on other major enforcement actions.
Notes for editors:
Find out more about Real Time Bidding here: https://www.iccl.ie/what-is-real-time-bidding/
Read the letter to the European Commission here: https://www.iccl.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Letter-Brexit-Commission-data-ICO-12Oct2020.pdf
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights monitoring organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign for all human rights for everyone.
For comment: Dr Johnny Ryan
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