With the Government publishing official Brexit guidance, we take a closer look at 4 items likely to be important for the technology of UK businesses:
- .eu Domains
For UK businesses using .eu registered domains, it’s expected that these will not be available for purchase or renewal after April 2019.
Official Government guidance is for businesses to purchase .co.uk, .com and/or .uk versions of important domains, and re-direct traffic in case of a ’No Deal’. Such action is likely to be more challenging for domain-linked services such as email.
This is also a difficult prospect for the unprepared: .com domains alone outnumber their .eu counterparts almost 40-1, so UK businesses may find themselves in a race to grab vital digital real-estate. Web developers and marketing teams might also have built significant reputational presence for the .EU versions of their company websites, and won’t relish the prospect of having to start over.
- Mobile Roaming
UK Mobile users abroad currently benefit from EU roaming regulations that limit mobile operators to a default data usage cost of €50, with alerts generated as the mobile user approaches the roaming limit.
Official Government guidance states that in the event of a Deal this limit would continue during the ‘implementation period’ so mobile workers abroad would temporarily be protected against high roaming costs after 1st April.
In the event of ’No Deal’ outcome, EU roaming regulations would no longer applies to UK mobile users abroad, and restrictions on how much European mobile operators could charge roaming UK mobile users would be removed.
The Government states UK networks will soon be bound by new UK laws upholding the same financial penalties for their roamers abroad – although these UK-based networks are ultimately responsible for whether roaming services are available via foreign networks. Mobile users working internationally need to be wary when consuming mobile data abroad after 1st April 2019.
- Data Sharing
Whether UK businesses can access customers’ (or any) personal data from the EU will be determined by an ‘Adequacy Decision’ taken by the European Commission; deciding whether UK data protection rules are sufficiently close to those of the EU for data transfers to be permitted.
The UK formally adopted the EU’s ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) during 2018 and will retain this beyond April 2019, suggesting that a common framework for a company’s ‘Legal Basis’ to process personal data is likely. However, the EC have stated this decision will not be taken until the UK leaves the EU.
Government guidance suggests companies dealing with any personal data from the EU, or with operations abroad, proactively seek legal advice to ensure they continue to be legally watertight when transferring data internationally after 1st April.
‘Geo-blocking’ certain customers online based on their location is currently not permitted, but this restriction will effectively be lifted after 1st April – for UK trading businesses.
This affects many online retailers: for example those who deliver goods ordered online, online services (such as streaming or cloud hosting) or take bookings for services at physical locations (such as ticketing.)
UK businesses trading to the EU will still be expected to uphold EU rules – for example offering the same service to both French or German customers.
However, the lifting of Geo-blocking restrictions effectively opens the door for UK-based online retailers to offer different services to different UK customers, or UK customers when compared to EU customers. Businesses are still advised to seek independent legal guidance for any variations to their service.
Businesses can access GOV.uk’s recommended Brexit guidance specific to their business sector here: https://www.gov.uk/prepare-business-uk-leaving-eu