Server Farm’s Jim Shanahan on GDPR & Brexit: “Folks are Looking for a Plan B”

Oct 5, 2017
by Josh Anderson
Jim Shanahan, Head of Global Operations & European Business, Server Farm

DUBLIN, IRELAND – One of the hottest topics in the Ireland and Emerging European Data Center Markets right now is the intersection of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the advent of Brexit. Everyone, including us at CapRE, want to know how it will affect end users, operators, and pretty much anyone else in the data center space. At today’s Ireland and Emerging European Data Center Markets Summit, we heard from Jim Shanahan, Head of Global Operations and European Business, Server Farm about his thoughts on this very topic.

“The GDPR has gotten very interesting these last couple of days,” he began. “But if you put Brexit into the equation as well, it gets really, really interesting. As you’d expect, talking to United Kingdom-based companies about their Brexit plans, they need to protect their regulatory status. For their supply chains. We’d rather that stuff came here than went elsewhere in Europe.

Shanahan is finding that quite a lot of people trying to figure out what the GDPR means for United Kingdom companies. “I think that a lot of companies that we’re dealing with at the moment assume that because GDPR is going to enacted into United Kingdom law, and since Brexit is going to happen as well, everything is going to be fine. What they forget is two critical points.”

The first point, according to Shanahan, is that in order to be GDPR-compliant, you have to pick one European supervising authority. And because the United Kingdom Is going “off the reservation,” as Shanahan puts it, that obviously cannot be the United Kingdom. “So straight away from a compliance and control perspective, some companies are needing to look somewhere else,” he explained.

And the other aspect is certainly the Schrems case, and you know, getting some kind of determination post-Brexit looks unlikely in any case,” he said. “Though it does look like GDPR will be enacted into the United Kingdom’s legislation, if you look at the same issues around privacy and contract laws, which is the potential for mass surveillance to undermine the protections of EU citizens regarding data, some of the same accusations have been run before.

The sticking point comes when we look to upcoming break of the United Kingdom from the European Union. “The United Kingdom is within the family at the moment. So therefore a lot of the question-asking happens behind the scenes,” he said. “Under the cloak of diplomatic, so to speak, courtesy. When the United Kingdom is outside of that family, those interactions will be very different. If you want to know more about it, Google the words “Brexit & GDPR,” and you’ll see the issues that have come up.

“What we are saying to anyone in the colocation business here, is to make sure your salespeople are completely familiar with those tuitions,” he said. “And get out into the United Kingdom market. It’s 3.7x the market here. A lot of folks are looking for a Plan B.”

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