Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Brexit

Just leaving this here... I wrote it in 2016. Six years' later, in 2022, we can now see hard evidence of the damage that Brexit is doing to the UK.  I rest my case. 


Four and a half  years' ago I asked the question: "As Britain prepares to exit from the European Union,  will we find ourselves in two years' time stuck to the bottom of the pan and will Britain be toast? Or will we be smiling, and say byebye to EU regulations whilst   sitting down to a great British breakfast of British bacon, British eggs, British tomatoes, British marmalade and the quintessential British cup of tea?" 

And I continued: "The bacon may come from a British pig, but its feed could be subject to new tariffs, and vetinary products that keep it healthy will fall out of EU regulatory regimes. Likewise the tomatoes and the marmalade. These changes will have implications for the price we pay and for food safety. Similarly, there will be implications for other industries, as Britain's business lobby, the CBI has said

Brexit is not just about walking out of the house and slamming the door. It is about fundamental changes to the way our country operates. The EU is an integral part of an international system and breaking away means that a massive web of international business that supports our most basic needs like food, will rip in places we did not even know existed." 

I think we now know the answer as we contemplate what it will mean to have 7000 lorries queueing in Kent, and a £15 billion bill to business for customs bureaucracy, in the full knowledge of Russian interference with our democracy and a government willing to break international law. Brexit was about emotive promises that were never going to be deliverable, for reasons that are systemic. The changes I predicted in the second two paragraphs  are now making themselves felt. 

This blog will explore the ongoing process as the UK makes its final exit from the Single European Market and the policy challenges it raises.

 If you are interested in research on Britain's new relationship with Europe, please contact me via the Contact page on this website

If you are following policy around telecoms and technology issues,  you may like my book The Closing of the Net.

The European Parliament has voted to ratify the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA). It did so  despite a litany of reservations. But why?

Today, the European Parliament gave its consent to the so-called Brexit deal, formally known as the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). There was an overwhelming majority of 660 in favour, 5 against, and 32 abstentions. The agreement now only needs to be adopted by the European Council, when it will formally enter into force.

It entailed  a simple yes/no vote under the Consent procedure, but as with all things Brexit, it wasn’t really that simple.

Read more: Not a blank cheque: European Parliament consents to EU-UK Agreement

Will  border safety be  at risk if the UK loses access to a vital EU database of wanted persons and police alerts?  

Parliamentary Committees  heard last week that instantaneous border security checks via the vital Schengen Information System (SIS II) database are likely to cease from 1 January. Evidence given to Parliamentary committees reveals a lack of preparedness and no alternative system on the same  scale. Is losing access inevitable or is it a political decision? 

Read more: UK border safety alert - mind the capability gap

Theresa May’s  exclamation of  ‘what?’  as  Michael Gove effectively dismissed the idea of an EU security co-operation agreement,  was a moment of truth.

The former Prime Minister has expressed her concern that the government is ignoring security issues in its hardened drive to leave the EU without any agreement – and indeed, without honouring the Political Declaration that she and her team negotiated. Official communications from the government, fail to mention security, including a letter from

Read more: What? Will UK government ignore security as it walks away from EU?

 As  talks on a UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal enter their tense final stages, a vital agreement on  security co-operation is hanging in the balance. A bespoke proposal has been tabled by the EU. It would facilitate ongoing access to cross-border data that police and intelligence services need. If it cannot be agreed, there are serious risks for law enforcement and individual privacy.  A reluctance on the part of the UK government to commit to future support for the European Convention on Human Rights  puts it  in jeopardy.  

The security co-operation agreement is needed so that UK law enforcement

Read more: Britain unplugged: the security risk of no-deal

OneWeb satellite in orbit

Last week, the Business,  Energy and Industrial Strategy  (BEIS) Select Committee called in satellite industry experts to probe the government’s £400m purchase of a share in the OneWeb low earth orbit (LEO) system and its potential in comparison to what we have lost in the European Galileo system. Some commentators describe it as a ‘gamble’ and space industry experts politely say it is ‘risky’. Is this  a good use of public money? 

The BEIS Committee Chair, Darren Jones, Labour MP for Bristol North West,  established fairly quickly  that One Web

Read more: Betting on a costly space race: MPs probe OneWeb satellite deal

New rules incompatible with the AI-driven supply chain systems that support our modern life will cause an industrial splutter. Lorry parks at the border are merely a symptom of systemic dysfunction. Expect price rises and  goods shortages. Strawberries and salads may fall off the menu. Prompt action could alleviate the situation, but ignoring it will result in long term damage.

When the UK finally quits the Single Market  on 1 January,  rule changes will come into effect for businesses.  With or without a ‘deal’, new trade barriers will be erected.  Customs declarations will be needed for goods going in or out of the country, traders will have to demonstrate compliance with standards and ‘rules of origin’,  and depending on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU, a tariff payment will be required.  The latest UK -EU discussions about 'cabotage'  - rules for pick up and drop off in the EU27-  underscore how deep the changes will run. In all likelihood, it will lead to  uncertainties of supply, price hikes and

Read more: Disrupting supply chains: how leaving the Single Market means systemic breakdown

What does the Schrems case mean for UK post-Brexit data flows? At the heart of the Schrems case is a conflict of laws - a conflict between EU  privacy  law and US surveillance law.  After 31 December, the question about surveillance law turns around to point at the UK.  Whichever way one looks at it, deal or no deal with the EU, UK surveillance law will be the determining factor. 

Overnight on 31 December 2020, the rules governing data flows from the UK to other countries will change. As the UK pulls out of the pan-European GDPR regime, it simultaneously rips

Read more: Schrems ruling puts a spoke in UK data flows from 2021

Queues of trucks, shortages of carrots, but what about our data? We take it for granted to run our lives. It is the invisible agent that enables everything from sending a photo to a friend, to the vast industrial logistics support for those very trucks that deliver the carrots and other vegetables to our supermarkets.

Data-driven activity is so much a part of daily life in 2019 that we don’t even contemplate it not functioning. If it didn’t function, we wouldn’t either.

The effects of Brexit on the data world are also invisible, lurking under the surface in a quagmire that will make itself felt tangibly if Brexit is in any way allowed to happen ( uncertain and subject to Parliamentary battles at the time of writing).

How can we identify these effects? Here goes.

Read more: Data and Brexit – a mis-calculation?

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States v the 'Net? 

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Iptegrity in brief

 

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing. I am on the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group.  I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. For more, see About Iptegrity

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