How will Brexit affect data management?

Posted 10th December 2018 by in Blog, Consent, GDPR


GDPR prompted a seismic shift in the way businesses handle data, and the aftershocks are still being felt today. Businesses must steady themselves amid these aftershocks and ready themselves for something on the horizon that will further affect their data handling – Brexit. Currently scheduled to take place on 29th March 2019, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is set to cause yet more headaches for companies’ data handling and compliance.

The terms and conditions of Brexit are changing on an almost daily basis, and within this context the Government has been unable to provide clear solutions to businesses on how to ready themselves.

The only certainty at the moment is uncertainty, set in the context of most businesses having no idea where they stand when it comes to legal changes around data flows between the the UK and EU. Additional question marks remain over the UK’s status following Brexit in the event of a no-deal scenario. Furthermore, the UK’s relationship with international data laws extending beyond the EU are also unclear following Brexit.

One thing businesses do know though, is they need to be prepared for any change in these data laws. How can businesses ready themselves?

First and foremost, businesses must be clear on exactly where they keep data, and be ready to re-permission it if required. Pre-GDPR, UK companies didn’t traditionally differentiate between EU and UK customers. There will now be a scenario where businesses need to handle these customers differently, with differing consent controls. In addition, data use will need to be tracked at a country level as, despite GDPR being an EU-wide initiative, each local jurisdiction can interpret it slightly differently.

Companies must also consider where their data is stored and how this might need to change after Brexit. Large businesses may have to restructure their data and compliance teams into different units, based on where their customers are based and how their company is structured. This is likely to involve huge upheaval for businesses – for compliance, data protection and marketing departments in particular. Already, we’ve seen a notable number of businesses restructuring their legal entities as Brexit approaches.

Flexible infrastructure will be key, and in particular data handling infrastructure which can deal with different legal outcomes linked to Brexit. This is especially true for industries such as retail, finance, insurance, and any other industry which relies heavily on using consumer data for marketing. Many businesses operating within these industries could see their customer base split in two, and will therefore be required to change data operations to avoid losing their most valuable asset.

Of course businesses also need to consider that customers can change location too, which means a change in their jurisdiction. Whatever solutions businesses adopt, they must be able to address both national and international aspects of handling data.  

The companies that succeed in a post-Brexit world will be those which offer this flexibility in a transparent way and, in doing so, retain consumer trust to protect and grow their reputation and bottom line.

To find out how you can ready your business for GDPR post-Brexit, request a demo with Trunomi today.