FEDMA Held a Debate on EU Digital Legislations Impact on Users and The Data-Driven Industry

Axel Voss and Chris Combemale

On the 24th April 2018, FEDMA organized its annual data protection event at the European Parliament. This year’s debate was focused on the ePrivacy Regulation proposal’s effect on users and overall coherence between pieces of the Digital Single Market.

The event “Privacy and the DSM: Making the Rules Work for All” attracted numerous experts and professionals from data-driven industries, interested in the recent developments of the Digital Single Market. Representatives of the European Institutions, marketers, publishers, privacy experts and other stakeholder gathered to discuss the most relevant policy changes in the data-driven world.

The debate was hosted by Member of the European Parliament, Axel Voss, a well-known advocate for a balanced digital legislative framework in the EU. He set the tone for the discussion, highlighting that the ePrivacy proposal would create legal uncertainty, detrimental to innovation.

Chris Combemale, Group CEO of DMA UK and Co-chair of FEDMA, presented the results of the study “Customer attitudes to Privacy in Europe and other countries”. The attendees of the event had a chance to see some preliminary findings before their official publication in each country. The research has shown that people are more aware of how their data is collected and used than in the past, but there is still a firm call for more transparency in data exchange.

Privacy and Online Services: Can Users Have It All?

First Panel

The first part of the discussion was focused on the privacy from a user perspective. Ingvild Næss from Schibsted Media Group explained how data collection is essential for publishers both to attract advertising revenues and to give readers more relevant content. Sachiko Scheuing, European Privacy Officer at Acxiom and Co-Chair of FEDMA, added that use of data is inevitable in the digital world, creating a win-win situation with benefits to advertisers, publishers and users. Taking the competition perspective, Martin Schmalzried from COFACE focused on the dominance of the ad funded business model and expressed a need for a more diverse eco-system.

Discussing the current legislative environment, all speakers agreed on GDPR being the standard for other privacy regulations and expressed their concern due to overreliance on consent in the ePrivacy draft proposal. MEP Axel Voss supported the position of the panel, stating that consent is “the death of privacy”.

Data Driven Industry & New Legislative Frameworks: The Need for Coherence

The second panel took the broader perspective of consistency between various frameworks of the Digital Single Market. In particular, the discussion was focused on the lack of legal certainty for the industry with GDPR implementation followed by the ePrivacy Regulation proposal, the Digital Content Directive and the recent New Deal for Consumers.

Second panel

Romain Robert, Legal officer at EDPS, highlighted that it is a misinterpretation to use personal data as a commodity and stated that a contractual element is not needed for GDPR to apply. Following the matter, Joachim Fauth, Legal Director at Reader’s Digest, added that consumer law should be fully aligned with GDPR and there can’t be any disconnection between privacy and consumer legal frameworks. Giving the broadcaster’s stand, Juliette Boissinot-Valains from RTL Group, explained to the audience the value exchange between content providers and users based on attention, while calling for contractual freedom.

After the conclusion by MEP Axel Voss, guests continued the discussion in a more relaxed atmosphere during a cocktail at the European Parliament.