Brexit: Uncertainty looms over GDPR, NIS Regulations for tech sector

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With ’s Brexit doomed to history, the ramifications of the UK’s divorce from the EU for the British burgeoning tech industry could be a period of chaos, uncertainty and sluggish growth. Large number of tech companies who have put efforts and energy around GDPR, NIS Regulations, cybersecurity and policy related matters may have to start from scratch. For example, in the event of a ‘no deal’ in March mobile tariffs in the UK would no longer be regulated by the government, and could leave operators free to re-impose surcharges for UK subscribers roaming across Europe.

Similarly, the Brexit could disrupt the UK’s adoption of most crucial pieces of software security legislation such as , Directive on security of network and information systems. Also, with sharp divide within the British people, this geopolitical or ideological disputes may echo in cyber space with attackers exploiting the divide.

According to Mikaël Schachne, VP Mobility Solutions, BICS, following the rejection of the Government’s Brexit bill, and in the event of a ‘no deal’ in March, mobile tariffs in the UK would no longer be regulated by the government, and could leave operators free to re-impose surcharges for UK subscribers roaming across Europe.

“This has driven a lot of speculation about whether we’ll see unwelcome return of post-holiday ‘bill shock’. But with LTE/4G data roaming traffic in Europe surging by 600-800% after the implementation of Roam Like at Home, it would be exceptionally unwise for operators to go against such clear demand,” said Mikaël.

“In its abolition of roaming charges, the EU set a major precedent, and motivated other operators to offer competitive international tariffs. Most of us have now grown accustomed to using our mobile phones – and all of those data-intensive apps and services – when we’re abroad, to a similar degree as when we’re in the UK. In taking that away, operators risk alienating their customer base, and risk haemorrhaging subscribers to those offering more cost-efficient roaming packages,” explained Mikaël.

“In the event that all UK operators decide to opt out of Roam Like at Home, we’re still unlikely to see the high tariffs that once existed. Roaming packages promote and drive subscriber loyalty, and encourage the use of all manner of mobile services and apps, helping operators to market and deliver additional services, making it in service providers’ best interests to stay competitive,” said Mikaël.

On the other hand Wai Man Yau, VP International, Sonatype is of the view that regulations should be upheld, but resourcing will pose challenges.

“The EU has been the driving force behind some of the most crucial pieces of software security legislation, from GDPR to the Directive on security of network and information systems. While Brexit could disrupt the UK’s adoption of such initiatives, given the critical importance of securing software, the government is unlikely to make any regulatory changes that would be to the country’s detriment,” said Wai Man Yau.

“This mentality also means that collaboration between the UK and EU on cyber security will continue after the 29th of March. No government would want to risk the security of businesses and citizens, and so both the UK and the EU nations have a vested interest in working together to boost cyber security levels,” said Wai Man Yau.

“However, with the UK experiencing a substantial cyber skills gap that’s set to increase in coming years, Brexit could make it difficult for British businesses to hire the right talent. At the moment, British companies are easily able to build multinational workforces to make up for a shortfall. If regulations change, and it becomes harder to recruit workers, the UK could start to lag behind other nations in terms of cyber security capabilities,” said Wai Man Yau.

According to Darren Anstee, CTO, NETSCOUT, Brexit could fuel cyber attacks. Darren said, “Recent years have seen significant political turbulence, from the rise of populist politicians to the shock Brexit vote. With political and ideological disputes representing the third greatest motivation for launching DDoS attacks, such a landscape has provided a fertile ground for attackers.”

“With Brexit pending, we’re likely to see any geopolitical or ideological disputes echoed in cyber space. This could be in the form of attacks against EU institutions, the UK cabinet office, political parties or media outlets. Other geopolitical events are also likely to fuel attacks, making it critical that countries and businesses build their understanding of cyber reflections, and stay vigilant,” he said.

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