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LIBE Committee urges European Commission to amend UK adequacy decisions

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On 11 May 2021, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament announced that it had passed a draft resolution evaluating the European Commission’s approach to the adequacy of the UK’s data protection regime. 

The resolution urges the European Commission to amend its adequacy decisions to address issues raised by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) in its recent opinions (please see Allen & Overy’s post published 19 April 2021, available here, for a short summary of the EDPB’s adoption of these opinions). In addition, the resolution provides that if the implementing decisions are adopted on their current terms, national data protection authorities should suspend the transfer of personal data to the UK, where personal data may be subject to indiscriminate access by UK intelligence authorities, before the UK has resolved the issues mentioned below. 

In assessing the UK’s data protection regime, the LIBE Committee noted that the basic legal framework is similar to that of the EU, but highlights certain issues, including exemptions relating to immigration and national security. The Committee notes that these exemptions now apply to EU citizens wishing to stay or settle in the UK and identifies concerns as to the lack of judicial oversight and the extent of executive powers. Other issues relate to bulk data access to data without suspicion of crime and bulk retention of data, which it is noted is inconsistent with the EU GDPR, according to EU case law. Moreover, the LIBE Committee is concerned that the UK approach to metadata does not reflect the sensitive nature of that data.  

The LIBE Committee also identified issues with the UK’s approach to the onward transfer of data, including the data-sharing arrangements with the US, despite the Schrems II findings that US practises of retention and bulk data access are incompatible with the EU GDPR. Furthermore, the LIBE Committee also noted that the UK has applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP), and that the majority of the CPTTP signatories have not received adequacy decisions from the EU.

The LIBE Committee concluded by urging the European Commission and the UK authorities to address the issues they highlight and recommend that, without an action plan to address these, no adequacy decision should be granted, so as, the rapporteur said “to avoid repeating previous mistakes”. 

The draft resolution will be debated and put to vote during the European Parliament’s plenary session scheduled for 20 May 2021.

The press release is available here.