Anti-ter­ror laws face EU scru­tiny post-brexit

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Cara Mc­googan

THE Euro­pean Union could de­mand more say over Britain’s anti-ter­ror­ism laws af­ter Brexit, a re­port from the House of Lords EU Af­fairs Com­mit­tee has warned.

Britain’s se­cu­rity laws could be sub­ject to greater scru­tiny af­ter it leaves the EU if it is to meet the data pro­tec­tion stan­dards in Brus­sels re­quired for the free flow of in­for­ma­tion, the re­port said. Data move­ment across borders is vi­tal for com­pa­nies and law en­force­ment to func­tion, it added, but can only hap­pen if the UK’S pro­tec­tion of cit­i­zens matches those of the EU.

The com­mit­tee said the UK’S sur­veil­lance laws could be in­com­pat­i­ble with EU reg­u­la­tions, in a re­port that re­vealed the Govern­ment was not do­ing enough to es­tab­lish a data agree­ment. “The Prime Min­is­ter has said very clearly that the UK should not be sub­ject to EU rul­ings af­ter we have left. But un­less we align with the EU’S data pro­tec­tion rules we are likely to fall out of line with them, and it will be hard to be re­garded as a part­ner for data trans­fers,” said Lord Jay, chair­man of the com­mit­tee.

The UK will need to se­cure a com­pat­i­bil­ity agree­ment with the EU for se­cu­rity ser­vices and busi­nesses to be able to trans­fer in­for­ma­tion across borders, the re­port said, warn­ing that fail­ure to do so could “present a non-tar­iff bar­rier to busi­ness, and it could hin­der po­lice and se­cu­rity co-op­er­a­tion”.

As a mem­ber state of the EU, the UK’S na­tional se­cu­rity laws were ex­empt from scru­tiny in terms of data pro­tec­tion. “We tend to put more em­pha­sis on na­tional se­cu­rity re­quire­ments than the EU, which tends to em­pha­sise pri­vacy,” said Lord Jay. “We could find a ten­sion be­tween our wish to pri­ori­tise na­tional se­cu­rity and the EU’S wish to pro­tect in­di­vid­ual lib­erty.”

The US is rene­go­ti­at­ing its data shar­ing agree­ment with the EU af­ter the Safe Har­bour treaty was struck down in the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice. “Af­ter Brexit, we’re more likely to be in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion to the US,” said Kristina Holt, se­nior as­so­ci­ate at Pin­sent Ma­sons. She said the chances of the UK’S In­ves­ti­ga­tory Pow­ers Act fac­ing a sim­i­lar chal­lenge were “rel­a­tively high”.

The EU last year ruled the UK’S “in­dis­crim­i­nate” col­lec­tion and re­ten­tion of data was il­le­gal un­der Euro­pean law. The ac­tions are cur­rently jus­ti­fied un­der na­tional se­cu­rity ex­emp­tions.

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