BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

EU data protection: "We are the first ones to set a real standard"

Now Reading:

EU data protection: "We are the first ones to set a real standard"

EU data protection: "We are the first ones to set a real standard"
Text size Aa Aa

Jan Philipp Albrecht is a man on a mission.

The German, Green member of the European Parliament, and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, has been leading the charge behind the groundbreaking, new data protection regulations coming in later this month.

The EU's General Data Protection Rules - or GDPR - are the biggest shake-up in 20 years.

Put simply, they restrict the way companies collect, store and use personal data.

That data includes: names, photos, email addresses and social media posts.

It will be easier for people to access data that companies hold about them. For organisations, it makes clear the consents they have to get.

There will be fines of up to four percent of annual global revenue. It means millions for some.

So after all the data scandals of late, how good will the new rules be for business and for individuals?

Euronews reporter Damon Embling asked Jan Philipp Albrecht what he thought.

Damon Embling, Euronews:

"Data and information trading is described as the new oil of the 21st century, where big business players are making money. How far would you agree with that?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht, German Green MEP and data privacy campaigner:

"I would say that equalising data and oil is not a perfect match because there's differences in it but there's also a truth in this saying and that is that while the oil is fading out of our industrial model, we are more and more dealing with data-based business models and many new innovations are built on exploiting data. It could be personal data or non-personal data but in the first case, of course, that has an impact on everyone's life."

Damon Embling:

"These new data rules, the GDPR that we've been talking about, on the face of it, they seem like a great idea for all of us. But getting these through, over the years that you've been working on these rules, you faced some resistance didn't you?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"Yes, there's a lot of emotion and there are many people who would like to have less regulation, many who would like to have more regulation. I think that, in the end, we met a quite good compromise, if not to say a win-win situation, because we create a high level of trust for citizens, in digitisation, in new products and technology which can be very exciting but also very riskful. And, on the other side at the same time, we create a single-level playing field for the standards - not having 28 different standards on it. And also we create opportunities to use the data in the future and that's important."

Damon Embling, Euronews:

"So let's take an average user in the EU. They're out and about on their smartphone. They're on their computer every day checking their emails, on social media making posts, looking at different things. Up until now, how has their data been used in that respect?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"Quite chaotically. There were so many different practices with how to use personal data, how to inform your clients and to respect their rights, which have been there already before, of course. We've had data protection rules since many years but they have been fairly disregarded in practical life, especially online."

Damon Embling:

"But just give us an example of how our data would have been used if we were posting on social media, how it would now be different under these new rules. What extra protections would we get?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"The most important step forward for consumers is that there needs to be more transparency, so if I use personal data from a consumer, I need to make sure that he knows I'm using it for this and that purposes. I give it to another person etc. That's important because otherwise the individual can't really use fundamental rights like right to access of the data, or even erasure of the data. And, yes, there is some work in it, in explaining what you do with the data now."

Damon Embling:

"We hear that Facebook is changing the rules so that non-European users won't fall under these new GDPR rules because, of course, Facebook has its international headquarters in Ireland. Businesses are going to try and dodge the rules aren't they. How do you stop that?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"At least, inside the European Union, they can't dodge it anymore and Facebook saying our Argentina business is not falling under EU law is showing that EU law is now enforceable so that's why they move abroad with these services. But I also think that consumers in Argentina, or also even in the US, we see that right now, would be surprised if Facebook says, 'We are fine and ready to provide for privacy for Europeans, but not for you'. I don't think that will hold so long."

Damon Embling:

"These new rules bring in new requirements for companies in terms of getting our consent. But that's not necessarily going to cut down on the amount of data they're actually collecting, is it?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"We have to make sure that there is not, like, more data processed and collected about us than it is necessary."

Damon Embling:

"But do you think the new rules will actually cut the amount of data these companies are collecting?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"I think there will be better control for individuals to cut off this flow of data."

Damon Embling:

"Many people don't read the small print when they're surfing the net. They just want to look at something and they click 'ok'. If I can get into what I want to look at, then I'm just going to press 'ok'. How do you get around that because people won't read the small print necessarily and maybe they're still clicking that button and their data is still being used in a way they, maybe, don't want it to be used?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"The point is that if there is an opt-in, there is just a small moment where I can and have the possibility to intervene."

Damon Embling:

"Do they need to be more responsible?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"I think so, yes. No law can protect them from themselves. So if I'm giving away my data, I'm not protected for that, you know. I'm protected that I can control my data and we should do so. We should use our rights."

Damon Embling:

"There's a risk, isn't there, that this could harm Europe's economies in terms of jobs and businesses. It could drive them away because of these strict new rules. Is that a big concern?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"I don't think so. Many companies in the world apart from Facebook are deciding to adjust their standards with the European standards because if they're fine there, they're fine everywhere. So we export our model of privacy and data protection. And those companies that are already adhering to it, here in Europe, they have a very good advantage by selling their products as a good alternative to Facebook and others."

Damon Embling:

"But you're making their lives more bureaucratic and it's actually costing them a lot of money to implement these new rules?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"To make new rules, especially if you harmonise rules in the European Union by replacing national rules, you always need to adjust."

Damon Embling:

"All the data scandals of late have highlighted how vulnerable we are, as citizens in the EU, with our personal data. Why haven't these rules come in much sooner? I mean, businesses, have they been getting away with it for a long time?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"Yes, we had years of non-enforcement of data protection rules because there were loopholes, like some authorities being very weak - like in Ireland - some companies just hiding there."

Damon Embling:

"But why did the EU allow them to get away with that?"

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"Because it was only a directive that allowed member states to implement the law differently and to also enforce it differently. So companies just needed a legal department finding out where the loopholes are. We needed to close that."

Damon Embling:

"Looking to the future, do you think other places will also take these rules on? I'm thinking of America, for example."

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"I think 68 or 69 percent of US consumers are demanding GDPR-like protection, so there is a high pressure now to introduce it."

Damon Embling:

"But is there the political will?."

Jan Philipp Albrecht:

"And there is also, in the Congress, different proposals on the table, so the debates are not over. On the contrary, they are just starting. We are the first ones to set a real standard on the globe."