This is a slightly amended version of an article that originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Digital Education.
This is a round-up of views about how the decision to leave the EU might affect some of our laws pertaining to technology, such as data protection, followed by some suggestions on how one might use these notes in the classroom.
Most of the articles and comments I've read about the implications for education technology-related matters of Britain's decision to leave the European Union, or Brexit, have been pure speculation.
However, one at least was quite interesting as far as teachers of Computing or ICT are concerned, posing the question “How will the decision affect our data protection laws?”
This is a crucial issue for schools, of course, because if a divergence between UK and EU law starts to emerge, some schools may need to amend their practices. I received a press release about this issue, part of which reads as follows:
“Speaking before an audience of over 200 senior managers from across the financial services sector, experts from leading international law firm Simmons & Simmons and Henley Business School agreed that reform of the Data Protection Act (DPA)1998 is still on the cards following the UK’s historic vote to leave the EU, although they stopped short of predicting the DPA 1998 would be scrapped altogether.
Alexander Brown, partner at Simmons & Simmons and head of the firm’s TMT sector group commented:
“While there was stiff opposition to many measures contained in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) during the negotiations with the UK Government, it’s highly unlikely that the Data Protection Act 1998 will remain in place without some form of reform. In any event, it will be difficult to avoid the implications of the GDPR for many financial services clients that conduct business across the EU and therefore will need to comply with it.”
"The really interesting question – as yet to be decided – is whether the European Commission will recognise the UK as an ‘adequate country’ for the purposes of cross-border personal data transfers.” adds Brown.
According to the experts, the most likely outcome is that the EU will make a determination in favour of the UK as an ‘adequate country’ given its been at the forefront of providing legal protection for consumers with respect to personal data for over three decades. The UK was one of the first countries in the world to empower its Data Protection Authority to impose fines for personal data breaches.”
For your information, my company, Terry Freedman Ltd, has been registered under the Data Protection Act for many years.
The cookie law
The digital technology industry
I’ll include a couple of comments for the sake of completeness. However, you will note that they both say pretty much the same thing and, like the rest of us, the people who made them don’t know how things will work out.
These are taken from press releases I received.
Matt Hunt, CEO of Apadmi Enterprise, the UK’s leading app developer, says:
“The UK and EU are markets that have continued to offer tech businesses huge growth potential and the international business community has been overwhelmingly supportive of our industry.
Technology does not observe boundaries and we have been lucky to enjoy an inspiring array of tech from the UK, Europe and even further afield, which we have been able to access and use for the benefit of our customers. The UK tech industry has been in a strong position and the only limitations we’ve faced to do business has been our own ability. With the impending Brexit, there is now a high level of risk and uncertainty over our future and questions are being asked as to how will we be able to build on our success and further grow without the support of the EU.”
Daniel Reilly, co-founder at Ruler Analytics, a visitor level marketing analytics and call tracking solution provider, said:
"Here at Ruler Analytics we are disappointed in the vote to leave the EU. However, the digital marketing sector is one of the most resilient and growing sectors of recent times. Whilst there are a number of negatives to leaving the EU there are also many positives for an industry that has no borders.
“We certainly don’t think this change will affect the ability to recruit skilled labour from abroad, nor do we believe this will cause a shortage of jobs within a constantly developing and evolving market place. We are a serviced-based financial economy, which is driven by a great infrastructure of both education and training, and this has allowed us to be at the forefront of digital, and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
There’s an interesting round-up of the issues as found on social media here: Vuello's EU Membership Referendum: Stakeholder response and media analysis.
Tricia Kelleher, Principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation, said:
“The future is not pre-ordained. There is no reason why we should not remain globally connected and globally minded. And our young people need to be prepared to be active citizens nationally and internationally.
Educationally the narrow focus on qualifications, the idée fixe of the current government, is not the best preparation for life in this globalised society. The facility to pass a test is entirely different from having the capacity to thrive and prosper, to make a meaningful contribution to society and to respond to the demands of a world where change is, if anything, accelerating.”
Phil Foster, MD of Love Energy Savings, made an interesting comment:
“For small businesses who are looking to grow outside of the UK, airfares will be crucial. But if prices spike following the exit from the EU, entrepreneurs who may already be keeping a close eye on their bank balance may struggle to afford the journeys to the mainland.
But thanks to modern technology, travelling hundreds of miles isn’t the only way to conduct a successful business meeting. There are dozens of different programs available to hold voice and video conference calls — all you need is a strong internet connection. My advice would be to consider investing in some decent computers, internet and software packages to ensure you keep communication with your clients, partners and customers a top priority.”
TIGA, the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, has raised concerns about intellectual property:
“IP is the lifeblood of the video games industry and the impact of ‘Brexit’ here could be significant. There are many commercial considerations. For example, the UK is part of both the Registered Community Design regime and the EU Trade Mark regime and also recognises the Unregistered EU Design Right. Such rights provide protection to rights holders across the EU Member States. Potentially such EU related rights might lose their validity in the UK. The implication being that those parties who originally held such EU rights may need to apply for UK trade mark and design rights to protect their rights in the UK. This may result in issues relating to existing development and publishing arrangements, IP licenses and security over IP rights.”
So, what can we learn from all this? That nobody knows anything for certain. The good news for teachers, then, is that you can have a discussion with your students about some of the issues raised here in the certain knowledge that neither they nor you can be proved wrong (yet)!
If I were still teaching I’d have a two-pronged approach:
With students of any age from primary (elementary) to secondary (high) I’d discuss issues such as data protection, Intellectual Property Rights, and the potential costs and benefits of the Brexit decision as far as digital technology issues are concerned (using the appropriate level of language, of course).
With older students I’d also discuss what they could do to make themselves stand out in the higher education and employment markets.
I always did that anyway, but I have the sense that many young people need practical strategies to help them make their way in this newly uncertain world.
As I said at the beginning of the article, this was originally published in the Digital Education newsletter. This is free, and has been published since the year 2,000. If you'd like to read views related to education technology, reviews of books about computing and ICT, and be informed about useful classroom resources, then subscribe now!