Former UK deputy PM Nick Clegg foresees ‘impasse’
FACEBOOK’S head of global affairs says Ireland could be the victim of a no-deal Brexit as British leaders have not “properly understood” the immediate ramifications.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Nick Clegg said that if Boris Johnson doesn’t strike a Brexit deal, salvaging trade relations with Ireland and the EU will be “like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again”.
The former deputy British Prime Minister, who has been working as a deputy to Mark Zuckerberg for two years, also said that millions of European companies now risk seeing data transfers “grind to a halt” if EU and US governments and data protection authorities don’t quickly find a way of solving the impasse that has led to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s order to Facebook to halt data transfers between the EU and the US.
Mr Clegg repeated Facebook’s warning that it is “not obvious” to the company how to continue normal data transfer business across Europe in the absence of a resolution to the issue.
Facebook is currently challenging the Irish DPC in the High Court over the ground-breaking order that Helen Dixon issued last month. The social media giant, which employs four thousand people at its Dublin offices, told the Court that it could not see how it could continue to operate its services if the DPC order is allowed to stand.
“It’s almost inconceivable that governments, as they start to appreciate the potential enormity of this issue, would sit on their hands whilst the international data transfer mechanisms upon which so many thousands, potentially millions of companies rely on, grinds to a halt,” he said on the matter.
“It’s still not obvious to us what the alternatives are [to standard clause contracts, used for data transfers], nor do I think it’s obvious or to the thousands of companies that rely on them.“
Asked about the effects of a no-deal Brexit for Facebook transferring data in and out of the UK, Mr Clegg said that the company was considering “contingency planning” but declined to elaborate.
He said that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be damaging and long-lasting to the UK.
“I’m not entirely sure that the full knock on effects have been properly understood by them,” he said when asked about the UK’s “no deal” threat.
“It would be tremendously grave. It would cause immense disruption,” he said. “But if there is no deal, new arrangements will eventually have to be put in place, whether it’s how airplanes land or how data is transferred. It’s just going to be like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”