- The UK and US have committed in principle to facilitate the free flow of personal data between the UK and the United States through a new ‘data bridge’
- In 2021, the UK exported more than £79 million of data-enabled services to the US. A data bridge would speed up processes for businesses, reduce costs, and increase opportunity by making it easier for British business to operate and trade internationally
- The announcement coincides with the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States, where wider discussions on partnering on an inclusive and responsible digital transformation package were announced
The UK and the United States have reached a commitment in principle to establish the UK Extension to the Data Privacy Framework, which would see the creation of a new ‘data bridge’ between the two countries. US companies who are approved to join the framework, would be able to receive UK personal data under the new data bridge.
International data transfers are central to modern day business transactions, and the United States is one of the UK’s leading trading partners in data-enabled exports. In 2021, 93% of the UK’s services exports were data-enabled, and the UK exported more than £79 billion of these services (about 30% of the UK’s total data-enabled services exports) to the US. Despite this relationship, burdensome red tape is an inescapable part of the current arrangements. Most UK businesses who want to send personal data to a service provider or company in the United States must have costly contract clauses in place to ensure protection and privacy standards are maintained. A data bridge would remove that burden, speeding up processes for businesses, reducing costs, and increasing opportunity by making it easier for British businesses to operate and trade internationally.
The result of two years of technical discussions between the UK and the United States, this data bridge (if finalised) would see both sides of the Atlantic realising the increased benefits of data-enabled trade, stimulating economic growth across the two regions, and encouraging more businesses to operate on a global scale.
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Chloe Smith, said:
“This commitment in principle is the result of two years of positive and productive discussions with the United States. Data bridges not only offer simpler avenues for the safe transfer of personal data between countries, but also remove red tape for businesses of all sizes and allow them to access new markets.
“International collaboration is key to our science and technology superpower ambitions, and working with global partners like the United States ensures we can open new opportunities to grow our innovation economy”.
The establishment of a ‘data bridge’ would also help drive trans-Atlantic research and innovation by providing greater certainty for organisations wishing to collaborate and share data with trans-Atlantic partners, enabling us to share crucial information which can enhance life-saving research and encourage science and innovation across borders.
Strengthening the rights and safeguards of UK individuals, ensuring robust and reliable data flows, and reducing burdens on business are the key pillars underpinning the commitment in principle.
The UK already has a similar arrangement in place with several other key partner countries, including the Republic of Korea, with which UK businesses are now able to share personal data securely without restrictions. The Republic of Korea decision marked the UK’s first independent data bridge since leaving the European Union.
Further technical work will now be completed in the coming months before a decision on whether to establish the data bridge is made.