FEDMA to discuss industry efforts to foster trust at European Parliament

On the 18th November 2019, FEDMA organized its annual data protection event at the European Parliament. This year’s debate was focused on the importance to foster user’s trust, both through industry’s efforts, and with a balanced legislative framework.

The event “Keep Calm & Foster Trust: In the GDPR era, how industry actions and the right EU digital policies can support consumer trust and innovation” attracted numerous experts and professionals from the data and marketing industries, interested in the recent industry’s initiatives, as well as to discuss the future of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. Representatives of the European Institutions, marketers, publishers, privacy and competitions experts and other stakeholder gathered to discuss the most relevant policy changes in the privacy world.

The debate was hosted by Member of the European Parliament, Jeroen Lenaers, a well-known advocate for a balanced digital legislative framework in the EU. He set the tone for the discussion, highlighting the importance of user’s trust online by putting them in control.


Caroline Wren , Managing Partner at MTM, presented the results of the consumer Research “How EU citizens perceive digital advertising since GDPR”. The research shows that users have a perceived general awareness of GDPR, but not necessarily an understanding of its role and impact. In such context, improving consumer trust in how their data is used helps perceptions and encourages openness from consumers.


Industry actions to foster trust

The first part of the discussion was focused on the importance of user’s trust for the industry and the efforts put in place to foster such trust. Ian Lowe, Vice President Marketing from Crownpeak explained the added value and comparative advantage of user’s trust for a company, also pointing out that building such trust is an evolutive process which takes time. Chris Combemale, Group CEO of DMA in the UK, and co-chair of FEDMA focused on the role of trade associations to help the industry put the customer first, through self-regulation, using the DMA code and guidance, as well as FEDMA’s work on code of conduct as examples. Diego Naranjo, Head of policy at European Digital Right (EDRi) provided a counter view from a privacy advocate organisation, pointed out that the GDPR was not enough to address the user’s trust deficit online, and that the ePrivacy regulation proposal was urgently needed to complete the EU privacy and data protection legal framework.

Our speakers then exchanged around the important question of transparency, whether user’s needed more protection than they already benefit from, and whether legislation is the right approach to generating user’s trust. MEP Jeroen Lenaers moderated the exchange, emphasizing the importance to keep the dialogue open.

Designing sustainable digital policies for the future

Moving from industry efforts to legislative environment, the second panel discussed the challenges to take into consideration when developing EU digital legislation. Especially, the interplay between privacy and competition legislation.

Peter Eberl, Deputy head of unit, Electronic Communications Policy at the European Commission, started off with a full overview of the ePrivacy regulation proposal and other key objectives of the European Commission for the digital industry. François Lhemery, Vice President Regulatory Affairs at Criteo insisted on the importance for EU legislations to maintain a level playing field for the European tech industry and encouraged the Commission to rethink its approach. Prof. Maria Ionannidou, Senior lecturer in competition law, and rapporteur at the Hellenic Competition Authority brought in the competition angle in a privacy discussion by questioning if the lack of user’s trust online is the result of a competition issue, and what tools should be used to address it. Finally, Mark Kaline, Senior Vice President Data & Technology practice at the Association of National Advertiser, brought in an American perspective. Mark coined the term “quilt of chaos” to describe the challenge of having different privacy legislation in each US states. Our second panel received lots of questions, from specifics of the ePrivacy to its impact on competition and the ever importance of balance between legislation and self-regulation.

MEP Jeroen Lenaers concluded the event with a list of buzzwords from the evening, starting with “breaking silos” between the different areas of the law, “self-regulation, quilt of chaos, balance, but most importantly trust”. All these theme will be discussed in the next 5 years by the new European Commission.   

After the conclusion MEP Jeroen Lenaers, invited the participants to continue the discussion in a more relaxed atmosphere at a cocktail in the European Parliament.

Pictures of the event can be seen here.

Here you can have a look at the event and listen to our speakers.

Thank you to our sponsors for making this evening happen: