I just noticed this on Twitter:


Fun fact: the EU-UK post Brexit trade deal text includes a copy of the 7-bit ASCII table on page 977, just in case you happen to need it

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Related tweets also show references to Netscape Navigator 4.x and SHA-1, which could probably be attributed to outdated templates, but what specific regulation(s) does the EU-UK trade deal have that requires the inclusion of a 7-bit ASCII table?

  • 34
    'Characters' 123 and 125 look seriously odd. JSON escaping issue?
    – abligh
    Dec 28, 2020 at 9:13
  • 4
    @abligh don't know why it would be JSON, but heh, yes, it does look like someone screwed that up. I'm waiting for someone to actually follow this table and have their system not work. Dec 28, 2020 at 10:52
  • 18
    The presentation is unlike any I have ever seen. Row-major order, and strictly decimal. Also, no clear indication of which (if any) of those "empty" cells is supposed to represent the space character. Pile that on top of the wonkiness in cells 123 and 125, and it makes me wonder whether the person who prepared it even knows or cares what ASCII is used for. Dec 28, 2020 at 14:57
  • 10
    Seems to me that they could have simply referenced the appropriate ISO standard. That's what standards are for.
    – Barmar
    Dec 28, 2020 at 15:07
  • 7
    Character 34 is wrong also. It should be a double quote. Instead it's a single quote that looks slightly different from the one in cell 39. I suppose they made the table in Microsoft Word with smart quotes turned on.
    – benrg
    Dec 28, 2020 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


If you scroll up one page, you'll see it is part of an appendix to "Chapter 2 (exchange of dactyloscopic data)", or in other words, that data format for representing fingerprints. Certain fields in this data format are text fields, which are meant to be using ASCII characters.

  • 1
    So taken out of context? Dec 29, 2020 at 16:59
  • 1
    @PeterMortensen Well, "what is the context?" is really the crux of this question.
    – Joe C
    Dec 30, 2020 at 9:24

@Joe C is correct. ASCII code is also referenced elsewhere regarding standards and protocols for exchanging various types of data, including, for example, DNA records. All such usages require a commonly agreed precise reference, which is the table in the appendix. See pages 924-925, 934-935, and others. Ensuring everyone knows they are using the same "language" when sharing data is a matter requiring serious precision in international treaties.

  • 30
    "serious precision"... and then they messed up the curly braces. Wonder what other quality issues are hidden in these papers :)
    – dlatikay
    Dec 28, 2020 at 10:02
  • 2
    Some of the EU countries have significant cultural use of Cyrillic, so it's entirely reasonable to have an unambiguous statement of the character set to be used. I'm just surprised that the French didn't insist that it included the accented vowels that they habitually use. Dec 28, 2020 at 11:33
  • 3
    @RadovanGarabík Perhaps. But remember that the EU predates (common use of) UTF-8, and that as well as Cyrillic there are various "not quite ASCII" codepages... so it makes entire sense to define a single baseline encoding. Dec 28, 2020 at 12:56
  • 5
    @MarkMorganLloyd Definitely. But Cyrillic IMHO has nothing to do with this - commonly used pre-UTF-8 Bulgarian codepage was ASCII compatible. And common EU dactyloscopic database might well predate Bulgaria's membership in the EU. (and there was Greece anyway). My gut feeling is that the dactyloscopic database (like many, many legacy systems) is ASCII only and essientialy unupgradable. Dec 28, 2020 at 13:03
  • 8
    @dlatikay And no control codes. And the space character is... where exactly? And the table ends with the code position 129? Oh my... Dec 28, 2020 at 13:08

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