(Bloomberg) — U.K. privacy protections were criticized by an activist who told the European Union that the British shouldn’t be trusted to protect user data after Brexit.
The personal data of EU citizens “do not at present have an adequate level of protection in the U.K.,” Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, wrote in a letter to the European Commission on Monday.
The U.K. “lacks an effective independent supervisory authority that is capable of enforcing compliance with data protection law and vindicating data subjects’ rights,” added Ryan.
Without a so-called adequacy decision from the EU by the end of the year, companies would be thrown into legal limbo and no longer be able to transfer data safely across the English Channel. At the risk of hefty fines under the EU’s strict data protection rules, U.K. companies that rely on data flows to and from the bloc would have to quickly find alternatives, involving more paperwork.
An EU adequacy decision would be a green light for such transfers without restrictions. To get there, the U.K. will have to meet a number of strict conditions. One of them is “the existence and effective functioning of one or more independent supervisory authorities,” according to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
EU Regulators Take
A Ugandan environmental activist was suspended from Twitter in the midst of a high-profile campaign — a suspension he believes is connected to his opponents in the country’s government and industries linked to deforestation. Twitter won’t say what caused the account to be frozen, but environmental groups worry it’s part of a broader trend of powerful stakeholders exploiting Twitter’s moderation system to silence climate activists.
The suspension happened on the night of September 12th, after 22-year-old Nyombi Morris had just finished a television appearance about the preservation of the Bugoma Forest. The morning after the interview, he woke up to find his account was frozen without explanation. He says he contacted Twitter’s Help Center at least five times during the weeks his account was suspended but couldn’t figure out what had triggered the freeze, and began to suspect the suspension could be connected to his advocacy. Another Ugandan activist with Fridays for Future who fights deforestation, Leah Namugerwa, had her account frozen in September, too.
“I was very, very disappointed,” Morris told The Verge. “What I suspected is that because our government was trying to silence us about this Bugoma Forest, they used some people to suspend our accounts.” Morris regained access to his original account on September 30th, after The Verge contacted Twitter regarding the suspensions. Neither Morris nor The Verge was told why the account was suspended in the first place.
Twitter says that at least two of the suspended accounts belonging to environmental activists were caught in a spam filter and have since been reinstated. The social media giant didn’t give any more information on why those accounts might have been flagged as spam, what happened to other accounts, or how many in all have been suspended.