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Facebook's Nick Clegg warns Ireland could be victim of a no-deal Brexit


Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs

Facebook's head of global affairs has said the Irish Republic could be the victim of a no-deal Brexit as UK leaders have not "properly understood" the immediate ramifications.

Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told the Irish Independent that if Boris Johnson doesn't strike a Brexit deal, salvaging trade relations with the Republic and the EU will be "like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again".

He also said that millions of European companies now risk seeing data transfers "grind to a halt" if EU and US governments and data protection authorities don't quickly find a way of solving the impasse that has led to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner's order to Facebook to halt data transfers between the EU and the US.

Mr Clegg, who has been working as a deputy to Mark Zuckerberg for two years, repeated Facebook's warning that it is "not obvious" to the company how to continue normal data transfer business across Europe in the absence of a resolution to the issue.

Facebook is currently challenging the Irish DPC in Dublin's High Court over the ground-breaking order that Helen Dixon issued last month. The social media giant, which employs 4,000 people at its Dublin offices, told the Court that it could not see how it could continue to operate its services if the DPC order is allowed to stand.

"It's almost inconceivable that governments, as they start to appreciate the potential enormity of this issue, would sit on their hands whilst the international data transfer mechanisms upon which so many thousands, potentially millions of companies rely on, grinds to a halt," he said.

"It's still not obvious to us what the alternatives are [to standard clause contracts, used for data transfers], nor do I think it's obvious or to the thousands of companies that rely on them."

Asked about the effects of a no-deal Brexit for Facebook transferring data in and out of the UK, he said the company was considering "contingency planning" but declined to elaborate.

He said that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be damaging and long-lasting to the UK.

"I'm not entirely sure that the full knock on effects have been properly understood by them," he said when asked about the UK's "no deal" threat. "It would be tremendously grave and cause immense disruption. But if there is no deal, it's going to be like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again."