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Data Protection: The debate for a modern and effective European framework continues…

On 14 May, ETNO, GSMA, ECTA and CableEurope jointly held a Seminar on Data Protection and Innovation at the European Parliament to debate on Data Protection and Innovation. They took this opportunity to reinforce again their common call for harmonised and effective data protection rules for the benefit of innovation and consumers. The event was hosted by MEP Sean Kelly (EPP-Ireland), Rapporteur for the Opinion Committee ITRE, and counted with Vice-President Reding as a keynote speaker. Other panelists were Ronan Dunne (CEO Telefónica UK), Pierre Louette (Deputy CEO and Secretary General, Orange) and Matthias Kurth (Executive Chairman, CableEurope).

 

The idea of organizing this Joint Association Event came as a result of the meeting between ETNO and Vice-President Reding in February, where Reding encouraged European industry players to continue to have a strong voice in the data protection debate. Reding was very pleased that the entire e-communications sector could talk with one single voice in this matter. Reding stressed that Data Protection and Innovation should go hand in hand as they are complementary. She listed the reasons why the European Commission considers that the proposed Regulation will be good for businesses and will ensure precisely that Data Protection and Innovation go hand in hand:

 

o             It will reinforce the Digital Single Market: one single Law for 27 Member States (simplification)

 

o             It will impose the same rules for all actors offering services to EU citizens 

 

o             It will boost trust, which is essential for Europe not  to lose business opportunities

 

o             It will guarantee sustainability because privacy is part of the business model of the future

 

Despite the opinion of the majority of Member States, which do not support an “explicit” consent, Reding insisted in the need for “explicit” consent in those cases where consent is the legitimate basis for processing (art. 6.1.a). She stressed that if other grounds apply for legitimate processing, such as “legitimate interest”, there will be no need for explicit consent. 

 

Regarding pseudonymous data, Reding mentioned the need for a robust definition: safeguards and incentives as pseudonymous data should be considered personal data and not become a Trojan horse allowing the non-application of the Data Protection provisions.   

 

Ronan Dunne stressed that the key challenge is to get the right legal framework: one that respects citizens’ rights to privacy whilst enabling the innovation that will lead to the creation of the next wave of Internet applications for 4G networks that companies are currently building. He also stressed the need to reduce red tape for business and referred to the Digital Dashboard that Telefónica is developing and that will allow customers to control the data they want to exchange.

 

Pierre Louette pointed out the need for customers to have the right tools (customer empowerment). Orange will also run a trial of a personal data DashBoard by the end of 2014. He stressed the need to tackle the relationship between the future GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive in order to avoid inconsistencies and achieve a true level playing field for all service providers irrespective of their geographical location or economic sector. Richard Szostak (Reding’s Cabinet) referred to the Commission’s political will to assess the real need for a sectoral ePrivacy Directive, but only once the Regulation will be adopted. Matthias Kurth emphazised that the European industry was united in this topic and that we should build upon that. He referred to the one-stop-principle as a good improvement, but questioned about some uncertainties that still needed to be clarified (e.g.: enforcement).

 

You can click here to read Telefónica’s opinion on the future GDPR.

 

We will keep you posted on the future outcomes of the Data Protection debate!

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Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Telefónica Public Policy & Telefónica España Regulatory teams