LONDON: British people’s data privacy will be “hanging in the balance” after Brexit, former Cambridge Analytica staffer-turned-whistleblower Brittany Kaiser warned as the country left the European Union.
Kaiser said Britain would need to pass strong privacy legislation to protect its citizens once they are no longer covered by EU law, which will apply until the end of a post-Brexit transition period that ends in December.
“Data is the world’s most valuable asset” yet users are “vastly unaware” of how their data is being sold and licensed to companies, Kaiser told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Many apps require users to sign terms and conditions giving the owners access to their contacts, photos, location, and even the camera and microphone on their phone, Kaiser warned.
“Even if you delete the app you can’t get your data back,” she said. “Your privacy is gone.”
“With less regulatory infrastructure it’s unarguable that people in the UK will be less protected”.
British users are currently covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which protects all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches. But it is unclear what will happen after the transition period ends.
“It’s still hanging in the balance whether the UK will still be subscribing to GDPR after Brexit or writing their own legislation,” said Kaiser.
Such regulation is critical to prevent “future Cambridge Analytica scandals”, Kaiser said, referring to her former employer’s cross-Atlantic data privacy scandal.
With uncertainty around the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, she urged app users to take steps to protect their data. “Start simple, read some of the terms and conditions of the apps on your phone and if you don’t like them, delete them”, she said.
Kaiser urged Britain to retain protections similar to those of GDPR and to fight to be a part of the single data market the EU is planning to challenge the dominance of tech giants such as Facebook and Google.