Opentext: Brexit – how do you prepare for the unknown?

The most helpful articles and blog posts by providers and suppliers are those which convey useful information or suggestions without overtly ramming product down your throat. Those who, like OpenText, are confident about their products and their place in the market, are content to leave the subliminal message that they can help while conveying something useful to readers.

Opentext is one of the largest providers of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) tools, and has been adding to its range with the acquisition of Recommind and Guidance Software, giving it a strong position in electronic discovery and the forensic acquisition of data.

The OpenText blog carries an article by Janet de Guzman called Brexit – how do you prepare for the unknown? It focuses on the potential for disruption in a major market, on the potential changes to the regulatory framework which affects companies well beyond the UK and the EU, and on what organisations should be thinking about in circumstances where not all the facts are yet available.

The first point made in the article is that the UK will be bound to comply with the terms of the GDPR because it will come into force nearly a year ahead of the earliest date on which Brexit it can take effect. OpenText is not the only one to have come across companies who have actually cancelled GDPR preparations under the misapprehension that Brexit will make them irrelevant.

Since countries which are not members of the EU at all are recognising the need to plan for the GDPR, then it is obvious nonsense to conclude that it will not affect the UK, and OpenText is right to draw attention to this at the top of their article.

Many enthusiasts for Brexit are apparently upset at the idea that the UK will become a “third country” in EU data protection terms, required to meet EU standards just like any other country which wishes to to be involved in worldwide data flows. This does not fit the Brexiteers’ narrative, but “third country” status was always an inevitable result of the Article 50 notice. There is no obvious reason why the EU will want to be generous to the UK.

Other points in the article are similarly worth making, not least that that records and contracts which potentially give rise to post-Brexit problems must be identified. Records may contain personal information, both that which is already caught by the existing data protection laws and the wider range which will be affected by the GDPR. Contracts may include terms which are premised on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU and will need review and possible amendment for that reason.

The obvious subliminal message here is that organisations need systems and skills in place to meet both the (largely) known implications of the GDPR and the (as yet unknown) implications of Brexit. Enterprise Content Management and Information Governance are terms which boil down to “Do you know what data you hold, where it is and what it contains?”

The OpenText article refers also to the extent to which EU law influences employee protection legislation and the (again as yet unknown) extent to which the government will want to modify that.

Last but not least, the article reminds us of the importance of keeping in touch with customers through a period which affects them as well as you.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Brexit, Contract management, GDPR, Guidance Software, Information Governance, OpenText, Recommind. Bookmark the permalink.

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