BRUSSELS: Last week’s European Commission position paper on the use and protection of personal data gathered in the UK prior to withdrawal coincided with new research which warned of “serious and unintended consequences for the EU economy” if the collection and use of data in digital advertising is restricted.

The position paper on the Use of Data and Protection of Information Obtained or Processed before the Withdrawal Date set out the conditions under which businesses in the UK would be able to keep and continue to use personal data received or processed in the UK before the withdrawal date.

That includes “the right [of data subjects] to be informed, the right of access, the right to rectification, to erasure, to restriction of processing, to data portability as well as the right to object to processing and not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing”. A failure to maintain the same level of protection post-Brexit would mean “such data or information (including any copies thereof) should be erased or destroyed” the position paper stated.

The DMA in the UK expressed concern that the relationship between the EU and UK, which it said is integral for the continued success of both multi-national brands and the UK’s advertising and marketing industry, could be at risk.

“The EU’s current position is not just a threat to the UK economy, but to success of Europe as a whole,” said Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA. “Maintaining the free flow of data is essential for future growth both on the continent and in the UK.”

He pointed out that the DMA’s own research has shown that 76% of businesses want to retain access to the digital single market post-Brexit and argued that a failure to reach agreement on this issue “poses a real risk to every data-driven business in the UK, which is to say almost every company”.

Two separate pieces of research co-funded by the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB Europe) highlighted the unintended economic and media consequences that could flow from the implementation of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation.

IHS Markit reported that the use of data drives 90% of annual growth in the digital advertising market and warned that up to half of the digital advertising market could disappear if proposed restrictions on the use of data in advertising come into force.

That would have knock-on effects on the media landscape, as, GfK reported, less than a third of Europeans are prepared to pay for content to replace digital advertising revenues; even then the amount they would pay is far below the amount that news sites need to fund their journalism – with implications for the continent’s social and political landscape.

Data sourced from EU, IAB Europe, DMA; additional content by WARC staff