ISBA Highlights ‘Data Adequacy’ Fears in Pre-Election Manifesto

ISBAUK advertising trade body ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) has released a manifesto for the upcoming UK General Election, calling on the next parliament to swiftly end uncertainty around Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The manifesto asks the next government to “pursue as swiftly as possible a data adequacy agreement with Brussels”, highlighting one of the potential threats of a no-deal exit from the Union.

For ISBA, one of the most immediate concerns is the lack of a data adequacy agreement with the EU which would come as a result of a no-deal exit from Europe. Data adequacy is a status granted to countries outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) who provide a level of personal data protection comparable to the protections guaranteed by European law. Data adequacy is required for a country to be able to pass data freely between itself and the EEA, without further safeguards being required.

While the UK will continue to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) even after leaving the EU, a formal data adequacy agreement would still need to be reached for data to pass freely between the UK and EEA. Without a data adequacy agreement, companies which transfer personal data for use in digital advertising will need to apply extra safeguards defined under standard contractual clauses, creating more data compliance headaches for the UK advertising industry.

ISBA says it wants to avoid as much of the pain caused by this as possible, through the next government securing a data adequacy agreement as quickly as possible.

Other dangers to the UK’s advertising industry of a no-deal Brexit have been well documented. Research body Enders Analysis for example earlier this year revised its UK TV advertising forecast down to minus five percent year-on-year, due to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. And an end to free movement could restrict the UK’s access to talent, an issue addressed by ISBA’s manifesto asking the government to ensure the ad sector continues to have access to the best talent from Europe and beyond.

The trade body’s manifesto also went beyond Brexit. ISBA’s manifesto expressed frustrations with the government’s “endless reviews” of digital advertising. The manifesto asked for the next government to cancel a study of digital advertising being conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and instead focus on conclusions drawn by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner’s Office’s investigations.

ISBA’s head of public policy Rob Newman said this plethora of investigations has contributed to “extraordinary uncertainty and potential regulatory upheaval in recent times” for the ad industry.

Similarly, ISBA’s manifesto called for more action to be taken on the findings of the government’s Online Harms White Paper, released earlier this year. The manifesto said the next government should legislate for an independent body to regulate social media platforms, one of the paper’s recommendations, as well as establishing a system of online age verification.

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