Minister wrong in her belief that UK has the choice to opt into the GDPR while still an EU member

Today the ICO blog announced “that the government has now confirmed that the UK will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulation”.

Karen Bradley MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport appeared before the Culture, Media and Sports Committee on the 24th October. Explaining that she had a meeting with the Department for Exiting the European Union she told the Committee that they went through a number of matters.

“An example might be the General Data Protection Regulation, which of course comes into effect in the spring of 2018. We will be members of the EU in 2018 and therefore it would be expected and quite normal for us to opt into the GDPR…”.

However the Secretary of State is wrong in her view that we will opt into the GDPR while still members of the EU. Since the Prime Minister has said that the Article 50 application will not be made until March 2017 then given the 2 year negoation period (assuming no extension) that makes the UK part of the EU until March 2019. As the name makes clear the new law from the EU will come in the form of a Regulation. It will therefore become part of our law without the UK requiring to make domestic legislation to implement it. It is not a case of opting in while we are still members of the EU.

The ICO is still encouraging businesses to begin now for the effects of the GDPR and will be issuing further guidance as time goes by.