Gary Hibberd

Author: Gary Hibberd

Date: 22nd October 2020

 

It seems like only yesterday, and the only topic the UK media was interested in was BREXIT! Now… it’s COVID19…

… And BREXIT.

Under the circumstances, it seems a trivial thing, compared to a virus that is sweeping the world, causing distress and misery in every corner of society. But BREXIT is still something we need to think about. It’s still a topic the UK Government is struggling with. 

I’m no Politian, but I can say that I wouldn’t want to be, in this current climate. The world is suffering from the economic impact of a pandemic, which is going to be compounded by whatever BREXIT looks like.

 

Ignorance is NOT bliss

But as business owners, or those in the business of protecting Data, we can’t ignore BREXIT ‘just because’ there is a global pandemic going on!  Retreating to your bed and hiding under the covers until this all blows over, is not a viable strategy or option (no matter how attractive the idea might be).

It’s now October 2020, and the UK Government has released a string of TV ad’s, with the ominous warning that ‘Time is running out’. On the UK.Gov website, there is a countdown stating that (at the time of writing) we are 71 days from transition.

 

BREXIT Doesn’t affect me!

If you’ve read this far then the chances are that you know BREXIT will affect you. But for anyone in any doubt, let me say… BREXIT DOES affect you.

Of course, you may wonder how I can be so sure… Perhaps you don’t export out of the UK. Maybe you only have UK customers. If this is the case; Great. But do you only use UK IT service providers? 

Have you used Google and Gmail? What about that accounting or payroll package you’re using? What about the CRM with all your customer Data? Do you carryout Zoom or Team calls? Are these recorded? Is that stored in the UK? Does that leave our shores? Do you employ anyone from the EU? Do you plan to travel to EU for business or leisure any time in the next 90 days? Do you sell your services to the UK public? 

These and many more questions need to be considered and answered by you personally, and for your business, before you can have any confidence in the statement that BREXIT doesn’t affect you.

 

Data and Brexit; Beauty and the Beast

We are a world that now relies on Data. Our businesses survive and thrive because of what we have and what we know about people. Even a window cleaner has a book full of Data, which tells them about their customers; names, addresses, date windows last cleaned, money owed etc. Data is the lifeblood of any and all businesses irrespective of size and complexity.

But what about the Data YOU process? I’m sure you completed a full review of all your use of Data back in 2018, but have you done this in recent years? I’m sure you have because the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires you to understand how Data is processed and of course, you’ve maintained that level of awareness since May 2018. Right?

BREXIT will affect so many things, that many can be mistaken in thinking that Data protection is the least of your problems. You may feel this is true, especially given this current climate and the issues facing the UK and the world. But the fact remains, that to process Data lawfully you’re going to have to start thinking (again) more carefully about the way Data is processed and where.

 

Where attention goes, money flows.

The UK.Gov website states very clearly that ‘Your business, family, and personal circumstances will be affected”. There is an opportunity to answer a few questions which will help you understand how BREXIT might affect you, and one of these questions is’

“Do you exchange personal data with another organisation in Europe?”

 If you answer ‘Yes’ to the above, you are prompted to answer if you are;

  • Processing personal data from Europe
  • Using websites or services hosted in Europe
  • Providing digital services available in Europe

Can you answer truthfully that you know if you will be using websites or services hosted in Europe if you haven’t checked?

If you’re using a Data Centre or Cloud provider, who resides in the EU, then you most certainly are using services hosted in Europe. What this means to you, and what you need to do about it could be significant, or minimal. But you have to check.

In truth, I’ve been helping clients know where their Data is since the very beginning of my career! Over 20 years ago. As I always say; “You can’t protect what you don’t understand”. But certainly, since the GDPR came into force, knowing where your Data resides has been a priority.

 

WINTER is coming… and so is BREXIT.

There really is no excuse not to be prepared for BREXIT. Just like winter, we know it’s coming, and we need to prepare for it now. Not wait until it is upon us, and then complain that we aren’t ready.

BREXIT may affect your business a little, or it may affect it a lot.

Is this a topic that you want to focus on right now? I’m going to say it probably isn’t. But it is a topic we need to focus on. In fact, there is an argument to say that while your teams are working remotely, and you are looking for diversity and ways to differentiate, demonstrating to your clients that you’re already thinking about and preparing for BREXIT, could be a way to elevate you and your services.

We helped a number of businesses benefit from the GDPR, because they used it as a way to build trust with their clients.

BREXIT could be more of a benefit than you think.

 

Conclusion

On January 1st 2021, there are new rules for businesses and citizens.

If you’re not sure what this means to you or your business, then it’s time to find out.

  • Check
  • Change
  • Go

People often say that “We’re all in the same boat!”, but I disagree. If COVID19 is the storm, I believe we’re all in the same storm, but we are in different boats. Some will survive the storm, and others sadly won’t. 

BREXIT is a rock beneath the waves, and the only way we can navigate around it is to be aware of how big the risk is.

If you’re struggling to know how or what the risk is, then get in touch. I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

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