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Joe Jones


Deputy director, international data transfers, UK’s DCMS

RULEMAKER No. 4

Post Brexit, the U.K. wants to flex its data muscles. The government is pushing reform of the data protection rulebook it inherited from the EU, promising to make the new rules more streamlined and easier to use in a bid to turbocharge tech innovation. As part of the overhaul, London now gets to pick and choose with whom it wants to strike data flow deals.

Tasked with making much of that vision a reality is Joe Jones, a civil servant who earned his privacy chops advising industry groups in the so-called Schrems II case that led to the downing of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield pact.

As the U.K.’s point man in international data flows, he has a difficult task: developing digital ties with countries around the world while keeping Brussels onside. The U.K. needs to maintain similar standards to the EU and ensure that Europeans’ data isn’t mishandled once it’s transferred onward to maintain its data pact with Brussels, which must be reassessed in around three years’ time. An ambitious plan to strike data deals with India, the UAE and Australia — whose privacy standards are yet to be declared adequate by the EU — may imperil fragile relations with the EU.

Thankfully, Jones has been given plentiful resources. His 25-strong team of policy experts is more than double what the EU has working on data flows, indicating the importance the government is putting on data.

What to watch out for this year: The U.K. has listed six countries — the U.S., the UAE, South Korea, Australia, Colombia and Singapore — as a priority for data flow deals. Look out for how many Jones can get over the line this year.

What’s their superpower: Being asked to enact the Brexiteer vision while keeping Brussels sweet is no mean feat, and one that will continuously demand that Jones walks a diplomatic tightrope.

Influence score: 18/30

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