This week we hosted a roundtable discussion with leading politico-economic magazine Prospect and some of the most important political and business leaders in the digital information space. In partnership with Beazley, the event was the third stage of our EU Data Regulation research campaign with Trend Micro, assessing business readiness and consumer awareness of the new regulation.
The new European Data Protection Regulation is a set of legislation that aims to comprehensively reform data protection, strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. The event created a discussion forum for UK leaders to look at how the regulation sits with policy makers and legal commentators. Under the banner ‘EU Data Protection: will it work, and how do we prepare?’, the event was inaugurated by Sir David Omand, former GCHQ Director, and chaired by New Statesman journalist Jon Bernstein.
The table sparked controversial debate from a host of governmental and industry bodies, including:
- Mary Honeyball – Labour MEP
- Charlie Edwards – Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
- Paul Hadly – Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
- Alexandra Renison – Institute of Directors
- Raluca Boroianu-Omara – Association of British Insurers
- Sietske de Groot – Federation of Small Businesses
The majority felt the regulation is a positive step in making businesses more responsible for protecting consumers who could be at risk of cyber-crime due to leaked data. However, it was largely intimated that there are still several issues to be ironed out before clarity of implementation and purpose would be achieved.
Some of the key points raised were:
Mark Brown, Executive Director, Ernst & Young, pointed out that the regulation could, paradoxically, drive perverse incentives not to notify people when a breach or data issue occurs; the avoidance of aggravation could seem preferable than to owning up to the error and the ensuing maelstrom of anger, blame and cost.
However, companies are setting up datacentres in Europe simply to comply with new regulation; so it’s a positive direction in that respect, stated Max Perkins of Beazley Insurance.
Mary Honeyball, MEP, emphasised the fact that without cultural harmony, in terms of consumer and business understanding of (big) data use and purpose, we will struggle to get comfortable with the times and the changing expectation of information management between parties. Honeyball echoed how the EU is already behind the times, and regulation understanding has to happen at a supra-national level.
We believe that there needs to be a continued proactive drive to educate all businesses on how the new EU Data Regulation will impact them and their customers, so that they’re fully prepared for when the Regulation comes into force – particularly in light of the recent wave of high profile data breaches.
We’re looking forward to observing how the regulation is adapted, and how the culture of information sharing and management will inform wider ethical debates on the possibilities and problems of data in today’s digital economy.