Business Irish

Thursday 19 September 2019

Major data disruption from Brexit, DPC warns

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Crucial services are facing disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit because of data flow restrictions, the Data Protection Commissioner says.

In an interview with the Irish Independent's 'Big Tech Show' podcast, Helen Dixon said that data flows between public bodies would become illegal from November 1st if new technical measures are not first incorporated by those organisations.

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"Yes, it will, once the UK, including Northern Ireland, leaves," she said. "In a no-deal situation, there's no chance in the short term of an adequacy finding being in place."

This could have wide-ranging effects on ordinary people, other senior data experts say. One example might be free travel arrangements for senior citizens to and from the North.

"The civil service that manages that travel pass in Ireland won't necessarily have a legal capability to transfer the data of people using free travel to Northern Ireland," said Dr Katherine O'Keeffe of Castlebridge Associates, a prominent data privacy firm.

"Because we probably won't have the ability to send data to Northern Ireland. It's likely that the free travel passes will only work within the Republic. That's one situation where suddenly we go off a cliff and nobody knows what's going to happen."

Spokespersons for Bus Eireann and Iarnrod Eireann were unavailable to comment.

"There are there are several bases for legitimising a transfer that can include consent," said Ms Dixon. "And it's up to each organisation to analyse now what data they are transferring, and start looking at what mechanisms might be required."

Dr O'Keeffe warned it's an acute problem facing companies and public sector bodies.

"If you don't have a legal justification to guarantee that that data is not being abused, then you cannot lawfully transfer that data," she said.

Irish Independent

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