EU tech powergrab: UK-founded website to quit Britain – Luxembourg treasurer blames Brexit

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Despite being founded in the UK, the OpenStreetMap Foundation told members earlier this month it may relocate to the bloc. Registered in 2006, the UK company claimed the lack of an agreement on database rights was part of the reason why it could shift its base of operations to the continent. Treasurer Guillaume Rischard said: “There is not one reason for moving, but a multitude of paper cuts, most of which have been triggered or amplified by Brexit.”

The foundation works to create a free and open-source map of the world and now rivals those created by companies such as Google.

The company may now look to find a suitable country to relocate too although both Ireland and France have been ruled out.

The company recognised the extra work required to maintain its operation without the EU concluding a database agreement with the UK.

Mr Rischard, from Luxembourg, added: “The negative side is that it would mean a lot of work, and cost time and money.”

The EU and UK have an agreement to recognise copyright protections but this deal does not cover work considered as factual such as the creation of realistic maps.

In a statement, the OpenStreetMap Foundation said: “We are actively researching options to protect the OSM community’s interests, and one option under investigation is relocation to an EU member state.

“We have made no decisions so far.”

In a sign the EU could drop its stance over the UK’s exit from the bloc, Brussels announced an adequacy decision, which will allow personal data to flow between the two partners.

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After constructive talks, the EU announced it will recognise Britain’s high data protection standards.

The agreement will allow personal data to move between the UK and EU in a major boost for businesses on both sides of the Channel.

Despite the EU’s announcement, the UK Government had already moved to recognise the data from the bloc and the wider European Economic Area (EEA).

Culture Secretary and Secretary of State for Digital Oliver Dowden said: “After more than a year of constructive talks it is right the European Union has formally recognised the UK’s high data protection standards.


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“This will be welcome news to businesses, support continued cooperation between the UK and the EU and help law enforcement authorities keep people safe.

“We will now focus on unlocking the power of data to drive innovation and boost the economy while making sure we protect people’s safety and privacy.”

The adequacy agreements applies to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive.

It will now last for four years before being renewed or cancelled by the two partners.

Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “The UK has left the EU but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was. Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today.

“At the same time, we have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by the Parliament, the Members States and the European Data Protection Board, in particular on the possibility of future divergence from our standards in the UK’s privacy framework.

“We are talking here about a fundamental right of EU citizens that we have a duty to protect.

“This is why we have significant safeguards and if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene.”

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