Southampton businesses have been praised for their commitment to the EU General Data Protection Regulation – after a survey revealed the rest of the UK is mistakenly ditching reforms because of Brexit.
The regulation, which has been years in the pipeline, is designed to harmonise data protection regulation across Europe and provide citizens with more control over their personal data.
It has been ratified by the UK and is due to come into force in May 2018 – almost certainly before Britain completes its exit from Europe, despite the recent triggering of Article 50.
However a survey of IT decision makers in businesses with more than 100 employees, undertaken by information management experts Crown Records Management has revealed some shocking results.
It showed that:
- A quarter of firms have cancelled all preparation for the regulation.
- A further 4 per cent have not even begun preparation.
- 44 per cent think the regulation will not apply to UK business after Brexit.
Results in Southampton, however, were very different. The results in this region showed:
- Not a single respondent had cancelled preparations for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR)
- 100 per cent of businesses have either started a staff training programme or are planning one.
- 91 per cent have either reviewed their data protection policies or plan to.
John Culkin, Director of Information Management at Crown Records Management, believes the results are encouraging.
He said: “These results are a big pat on the back for Southampton because so many businesses across the country have failed to understand the impact of the EU GDPR and why it will affect them despite Brexit.
“Firstly, it is likely to be in place before any Brexit. Secondly, although an independent Britain would no longer be a signatory it will still apply to all businesses which handle the personal information of European citizens.
“When you consider how many EU citizens live in the UK it’s hard to imagine many businesses here being unaffected. So it is vitally important that companies in Southampton have understood the implications.”
UK officials and politicians were heavily involved in the drawing up of the new regulation and Culkin believes the general principles behind it are set in stone.
‘The reality is we are likely to continue to see stringent data protection in an independent UK rather than a watered down version,; he said.
‘Our survey revealed that at least half of companies across the board saw Brexit as an opportunity for Britain to position itself as the safest place to do business through even more robust legislation.
‘This means the best course is to prepare now and have a watertight information management system in place as soon as possible.
‘This issue is not going away and if there is one word of warning for Southampton businesses it comes with news that despite strong results in our survey, 45 per cent still believed that EU GDPR may not apply after Brexit. So there is still some education required.’
The EU GDPR will bring in massive fines for data breaches – as high as 20million Euros or up to 4 per cent of global turnover – as well as new rules to ensure privacy is designed in to data policies, plus new rights for citizens to ask for their personal data to be edited or deleted.