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IBM unveils no-deal Brexit contingency plans

IBM has unveiled its Brexit contingency plans and warned that a no-deal scenario could have a major impact on businesses’ ability to transfer data.

The cloud giant claims the “main area of impact” will be the freedom of movement of data, but also warns about the potential consequences of delayed imports.

It’s feared that if the UK crashes out of the EU on 29 March, the bloc will refuse to let European data automatically pass into the UK. Experts have warned that this would make it harder for European companies to do business with the UK and, as a result, British suppliers less attractive.

Speaking to reporters in January, the culture secretary Jeremy Wright said the government will ensure that British data can pass into the EU uninterrupted in the case of a no-deal exit, “but that the decision about whether data can be transferred from the EU to the UK is one that the EU has to make. We urge them to do so as soon as possible.”

In order to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, IBM is incorporating standard contractual clauses into its client contracts, which will “permit these transfers to continue uninterrupted”, it says.

The company is also preparing for the impact on imports and says it has assessed how a no-deal Brexit could impact its supply chain. It is working with suppliers to ensure vulnerabilities are managed.

“We believe that the best outcome for business is that UK/EU negotiations and deliberations within the UK government can result in a transition period and, ultimately, in future arrangements which will not materially interrupt business,” IBM states.

“However, we have taken the prudent step of making contingency plans to deal with a scenario in which there is not a comprehensive agreement, either when the UK leaves the EU or at the end of the transition period.”

IBM is not the only cloud computing provider to have taken steps to manage the impact of a no-deal Brexit. In January, UKCloud, one of the biggest suppliers of cloud computing services to the UK’s public sector, expanded its sovereign cloud platform, enabling organisations to store their data in Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.