Brexit & Business: Do you have any data stored outside the UK?


With the EU Referendum now only 3-weeks away, and with the latest polls showing a narrowing gap between the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ supporters, you need to understand how Brexit could affect any IT services you are currently running off-premise.

This could be a cloud service such as a hosted application or website, a file sharing system like DropBox, or even an on-line backup solution or data repository.

How will the Brexit affect my data?

If your organisation currently uses a service from one of the big cloud players, such as Microsoft or Amazon, your data probably resides in the US or on mainland Europe. And many of the low cost online backup providers such as Knowhow and Crashplan are also US based.

Until now, there has been a limited and flawed arrangement to protect your data between the US and EU members called Safe Harbour, which became invalid earlier this year to be replaced by a yet undisclosed EU-US Privacy Shield.

Furthermore, a new data protection regulation for EU members called the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) replacing the old Data Protection directive from 1995 has been approved. It has been meticulously manifested to provide EU member countries with data protection policies akin to our new digital world.

If the referendum vote swings in favour of Brexit, the situation becomes far from clear, with the likelihood that we would be excluded from these new, highly relevant directives. The range of data privacy laws for the UK will become highly ambiguous.

If the sovereignty of your data through security and compliance is of high importance to your business, with all of the uncertainty resulting from Brexit you should immediately consider migrating to a cloud or hosted solution that is located in the UK.

How do I find out where my data is stored?

A recent study of public and private sector organisations showed that very few understand or have any readiness for a shift in legislation, with almost two-thirds of IT decision makers uncertain about where their data actually lives. A third of those surveyed said their data is stored somewhere outside of the UK, with only 10% of those certain they will be able to bring the data back to the UK safely if needed.

Reputable cloud providers should take a plain-English approach when writing their service agreements so businesses don’t have to second-guess how their data might be used or where it is stored.

If your business chooses a cloud provider with a transparent approach to data storage, there should not be any confusion around the subject of data location, but if you are unsure where your data is located now more than ever is the time to actually read your policy agreement.

Whether or not the referendum means a break from the EU, you should always know where your data is based, and how it is secured. Use Brexit as the driving excuse you need to apply this good practise for your organisations due diligence.

What can I do to prepare for a Brexit?

If you are a new comer to cloud solutions, or are currently reviewing the services available to your business, it makes sense to prioritise those cloud providers that use only UK datacentres; businesses can then at least tackle one implication of leaving the EU.

Likewise if you have any current services hosted that are due for renewal, maybe now would be a good time to switch. Don’t be put off by any complexities you may think exist to migrate to an alternative cloud provider – migrating services is what cloud providers do,  and to them it makes no difference if it’s from on premise or another hosted service.

Re-establishing control of data and ensuring data is stored on home turf, will mean businesses are better prepared in the event of any changes in the future that could affect the Data Protection Act.

Nick @ Quest


Having spent more years than he would care to admit to working in IT, Nick hasn’t lost any of his passion for the industry. The constant need to be on your toes with new technologies and innovations keeps your mind busy and focused; but once in a while something comes along that’s a real game changer and enthuses your excitement for IT.

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