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UK-Japan agree to trade deal that bans data localisation

Japan, UK, United Kingdom
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The new trade deal between the United Kingdom and Japan puts a ban on data localisation while preserving “high standards of protection for personal data”. This is the first major trade deal for the UK post Brexit and was announced by UK’s Department of International Trade today. The United Kingdom and Japan have agreed “in principle” to the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that has also committed to uphold principles of net neutrality. Under the deal, British businesses will not have to bear the extra cost of setting up servers in Japan. “This will help UK fintech firms operating in Japan - like Revolut and Transferwise - to innovate and grow [sic],” the International Trade Department’s statement read. The UK has claimed that the digital and data provisions in this deal “go far beyond” the EU-Japan deal which came into force in February 2019. As a complement to that deal, Japan had earlier agreed to put in additional safeguards to comply with the adequacy standards put in place by EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These standards ensure that data transferred from the EU is protected as per GDPR standards. It was unlikely that Japan would ever sign a bilateral trade agreement where its trade partner attempted to stymie free flow of data across borders. This is because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had spearheaded the Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) framework at the World Economic Forum last year. DFFT aims to eliminate restrictions on cross-border transfer of information by…

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