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Digital Business Lawyer

EC’s Communication emphasises privacy aspects of Digital Single Market initiative

The European Commission published on 15 May 2018 its Communication ‘Completing a trusted Digital Single Market for the benefit of all,’ in which - in the context of the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) in EU Member States from 25 May 2018 - the EC presents what it refers to as “concrete actions” in terms of the protection of EU citizens’ privacy and simultaneously towards the completion of the Digital Single Market (‘DSM’) initiative. The EC urges European leaders to follow what it terms “the European approach, which links investment in digital innovation with strong data protection rules.”

The Communication draws attention to the application of the GDPR and its benefits for citizens, which the EC notes include further clarity on companies’ privacy policies and greater control for citizens over how their personal data is handled. Notably the EC asks Member States’ leaders to ensure national authorities are fully prepared for the GDPR. “The implementation status appears to be vastly different across the Member States,” said Dr Torsten Kraul, Associated Partner at Noerr LLP. “Member States are still deep in the legislative process. And even where Member States have passed appropriate legislation, regulators are in a learning phase to get to grips with the new rules. They also often - silently - admit they have only very little staff to assess compliance and go after infringers. That said, it appears that nobody is really ready to fully comprehend what the GDPR brings about.” “It is a massive project and not all provisions of the GDPR are crystal clear either,” adds Dr Nils Rauer, Partner at Hogan Lovells. “Thus, the implementation of the right measures and the administrative control remain a true challenge - and will continue to be a challenge for quite some time.”

The Communication highlights the ePrivacy Regulation, currently being developed at EU level; the EC wants to see the EU Council agree a position on the ePrivacy Regulation ready for talks with the EU Parliament by June this year. “This Regulation is essential for the digital business sector,” said Caroline Heinickel, Counsel at Baker McKenzie, Frankfurt. “While the GDPR protects the information (personal data), this Regulation will protect the channel used for such information to be conveyed and consequently, the interaction between users. The deadlines will be hard to achieve given the current situation and the fact that there are still a lot of issues left to discuss.”

Referring to the other pending DSM initiatives, the EC calls for agreement on the remaining proposals under the DSM umbrella, including the modernisation of EU copyright rules, by the end of this year. “Some of these initiatives, including those relating to the modernisation of EU copyright rules, are still far from being concluded, due also to the extremely delicate and sensitive aspects and interests involved,” explains Paolo Galli, Counsel, at Baker McKenzie, Milan. “For example, on the new EU copyright directive, some of the issues raised, such as those regarding the ISPs liability, the recognition of a new press publishing right and the provision of new contractual adjustment mechanisms to grant a fair compensation to authors and performers, are likely to require time and effort by the EU institutions before they are able to reach an acceptable compromise.”

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