British lawmakers say data must move freely after Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers said restricting the movement of EU citizens’ data after Brexit would hurt trade and security co-operation, and transitional arrangements should be made by the government to keep information flowing after Britain leaves the bloc.

British companies trading with the European Union after Brexit will have to comply with the strict rules the EU imposes on anyone taking data from consumers in the bloc.

However, suspicions in Europe that London tolerates more intrusion by security agencies than in countries such as Germany might result in Britain facing demands for even tighter rules for handling EU citizens’ data, experts have said.

A committee of the upper house of parliament said on Tuesday that Britain could be put at a competitive disadvantage and the police could lose access to intelligence, if the government failed to retain unhindered flows of data.

Lawmaker Michael Jay, chairman of the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-Committee, said the volume of data stored electronically and moving across borders had grown hugely over the last 20 years.

“The maintenance of unhindered data flows is therefore crucial, both for business and for effective police cooperation” he said on Tuesday.

“The Committee was concerned by the lack of detail on how the government plans to maintain unhindered data flows post-Brexit.”

He said government should ensure that a transitional arrangement was agreed to avoid a cliff-edge for data transfers when Britain leaves the European Union in less then two years.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Richard Balmforth