EU shows world the way in data protection

The much maligned EU today approved a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that standardises and harmonises consumer rights across Europe.  The GDPR includes among its provisions the “right to be forgotten”, the right to know if your data has been hacked, the right to transfer your data, and increased fines for companies found guilty of breaching the regulation.

But although it will be the consumer protection that attracts headlines, businesses should welcome these rules as well.  First out of the traps to do so was the GSMA – the world trade body for mobile operators.  The GSMA described the introduction of stronger consumer rights and harmonised rules across Europe as “fundamental to building trust and driving the uptake of new digital services by citizens across Europe.”

The GSMA also immediately turned its attention to the EU’s upcoming review of its e-Privacy Directive – saying the right balance needs to be struck between “protecting confidentiality of communications and fostering a market where innovation and investment will flourish.”

The fact is that telecoms and mobile service providers have long operated in fear of the regulator.  They cast envious eyes at the businesses that companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have created out of harvesting data and think to themselves – “the regulators would never allow us to do that.”

So clarity (within Europe to start with) of what you can do with data, how you to have store it, and the rights of the consumers who theoretically ‘own it’ will of course be welcomed by the telco operator community.  Maybe now, they can plot a clear (allowable) route to new business initiatives and sales that take advantage of the mountain of data that is generated by their networks.

The move by the EU is groundbreaking.  Talking to the Guardian, Phil Lee a data protection partner at law-firm FieldFisher said as much adding: “The simple fact is that the global standard for data protection will now be dictated by European rules.”

If correctly drafted, these rules and the e-Privacy Directive, will indeed lead the world in protecting consumers while enabling new business.  Quite an achievement.



Excellence deserves reward – but prepare well

Last month I worked with Sarah Hall (@hallmeister) on the initial round of judging for a category in the CIPR’s Excellence Awards.  As ever, the standard of entry was pretty high across the board.

Sarah and I both considered all 20 or so online entries and marked them independently against the category criteria using the scale the CIPR provided.  Although our marks differed slightly, we were able to reach a consensus quite quickly.  Despite the closeness of the scoring, we were agreed on six outstanding entries to shortlist.

Next up, later this month, are the face to face panel sessions which form a crucial part of the judging process.  Whenever I have been a judge in the Excellence Awards, this part of the process has always thrown up surprises.

Sometimes, beautifully crafted online entries, the leading scorers from the written stage, have simply not shone so brightly in the panel – and it is often hard to know why.  Maybe the enthusiasts who worked on the entry were not the team meeting the panel; maybe the team was distracted by a big new business pitch and didn’t put the preparation into the panel session it deserved.  Maybe the panel’s questions drew out some weaknesses in the strategy or measurement.

Whatever the reason, I can’t emphasise this point enough.  If you are shortlisted for an Excellence Award then congratulations – you have overcome a significant and challenging hurdle and managed to stand out in a crowded field of strong entries; but your work is only half completed.  If you want to win, then polish up the presentation, rehearse your answers to the likely questions, and practice, practice, practice.

Excellence deserves reward, but it takes effort as well.