- 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 Prime Minister’s visit to the United States coincides with the announcement, where they announced wider discussions on partnering on an inclusive and responsible digital transformation package.
The UK and the United States have committed in principle to establish the UK Extension to the Data Privacy Framework, which would create a new ‘data bridge’ between the two countries.
US companies approved to join the framework will be able to receive UK personal data under the new data bridge.
Modern-day business transactions heavily rely on international data transfers, and the United States stands as one of the UK’s leading trading partners in data-enabled exports.
In 2021, data-enabled services accounted for 93% of the UK’s services exports, with over £79 billion of these services (approximately 30% of the UK’s total data-enabled services exports) being exported to the US.
Despite this relationship, the current arrangements involve burdensome red tape that is unavoidable. Most UK businesses that wish to send personal data to a service provider or company in the United States must have costly contract clauses in place to ensure the maintenance of protection and privacy standards.
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 2 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 2 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 2 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 this agreement empowers both countries to effectively share critical information, thereby enhancing life-saving research and fostering cross-border science and innovation.
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.