Thursday 23 June, 2016 is when the UK will vote on ongoing membership within the European Union, with the other option being an exit (Britain + exit = ‘Brexit’). For those of us who can remember the vote to enter the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market, it seems that we may have come full circle.
What goes around comes around.
I am not going to predict (yet – keep reading) the outcome of the vote. But the possibility of the UK leaving the EU does raise some interesting questions and issues pertaining to the digital market, and what you should be thinking about regarding compliance and the ongoing operational management of your digital business.
The Internet has provided us with the ‘Digital Common Market’ from an operational perspective, but in terms of legal and compliance considerations there are still many questions that remain. In particular, consider the fact that the EU Data Directive in place now can be interpreted on a local basis – ‘local’ meaning that each country can have their own enforceable variation of the directive as they understand it.
With the upcoming changes and implementation in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), possibly in early 2018, the playing field will be the same (with a few caveats) for all members of the EU. This adoption of one standard for all will only benefit consumers and should eliminate any operational confusion for vendors.
So let’s fast forward the clock to 24 June 2016 and assume that the UK has voted to leave the EU. What happens next?
Well, the good news is that there are already existing Data Protections for UK citizens, and also many other resources that can provide guidance pertaining to your operational and consumer commitments;
The Data Protection Act 0f 1998: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents
The Information Commissioners Office: https://ico.org.uk/
The Direct Marketing Association: http://www.dma.org.uk/
We are now more than ever globally connected in this digital marketplace and I predict that the vote will be to stay in EU, which will mean that if you do business in the EU regardless where your business is located, you will need to start to understand the implications of the GDPR and how this will affect you operationally.
Here’s a great guide from the ICO on preparing for the GDPR: Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 12 steps to take now, and here’s an image from the ICO outlining the 12 steps discussed in the report.