This Monday (28 January) was European Data Protection Day – a good reminder for the business community that we have to earn the trust of the people that use our products and services through good business practices and strong privacy controls.
But at a time when the information and communications technology industry is one of the few sectors of the European economy that is still growing, the European Commission's proposal for a new data-protection regulation threatens to unravel the digital ecosystem, putting jobs and growth at risk and potentially stifling Europe's capacity to innovate.
The Industry Coalition for Data Protection believes the Commission's current proposal to revise Europe's data-protection rules would undermine our ability to deliver high-quality products and services tailored to the needs of our customers. If implemented, the new rules would have an immediate effect on the financial viability of online businesses, expected to account for 5.3% of gross domestic product in G20 countries by 2016.
The proposal would also limit business's ability to innovate in the future. Ultimately, European consumers would have less choice than consumers in other parts of the world, who will enjoy a greater choice of products and services that are more closely tailored to their needs.
We understand and agree that it is time to revise privacy regulations. But in their haste to push forward new data-protection rules, European policymakers are not giving adequate consideration to the practical implications of their proposals and to the rich variety of activities that depend on data collection and processing. Nor are they taking into account the speed of changes in technology and the business environment, and the impact on Europe's competitiveness and capacity to innovate.
The current proposal provides few meaningful new rights or protections to consumers, but it does significantly increase red tape and jeopardise the European digital economy.
What Europe needs is a balanced regulation that supports innovation and technological development while serving the needs of consumers who want high-quality, competitively priced products and services, provided by companies that have earned their trust. The data-protection framework should focus on accountability – not overly prescriptive legislation.