Imagine the scene. The European Parliament, 2013. A tense house is poised to vote on the proposals for a Data Protection Regulation. The call goes up for MEPs to indicate whether they are in favour or not.
Just then, the doors to the chamber are thrown open and in walks Sir Martin Sorrell. “Stop,” he commands. “You can’t do this. You are destroying a trillion euro business.” The MEPs fall silent and look nervously at eachother. Then one-by-one they hold out their right hand and slowly turn it with the thumb downwards. The Regulation is defeated. Data is saved.
Fanciful, yes. But in many conversations I have been having about the Regulation with people in media and marketing - especially those at arm’s length from data and its current regulatory structures - something like this is what is expected to happen. Disbelief that legislators could pass something so potentially damaging to the industry has converted into denial that it is happening.
Make no mistake, then - the Data Protection Regulation will get passed.
There will be a Right to be Forgotten.
There will be stricter requirements around consent.
Enforcement will change.
What remains to be seen is whether some of the proposals get traded off in exchange for the law being adopted and what the small print will hold, especially around issues like the definition of personal information.
An insight into where these negotiations have reached will be gained at the DMA Data Protection event on 8th February, which DQM Group is sponsoring. Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, will doubtless examine how his to-do list will be altered by the Regulation, while lobbyists from the DMA and FEDMA will reveal what the temperature of discussions within Brussels is like.
A key milestone in the development of the new rules has already been passed - and it provided no balm for those fearing the worst. As with any proposal drafted by the European Commission, a variety of committees examine them and provide a response. In the case of data protection, this is being led by LIBE, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. This committee is taking the lead role, taking input from four other committees: ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy), IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection), JURI (Legal Affairs) and EMPL (Employment and Social Affairs).
The lead rapporteur in LIBE is a German Green MEP, Jan Philipp Albrecht. As members of the DataIQ community already probably know, he returned with suggestions to tighten, rather than loosen the controls being set out. Even if there is some horse trading yet to come, Albrecht’s views do not bode well - do not expect much dilution.
The DMA has not minced its words when trying to galvanise marketers into action - 180 days to save you industry. We are now down to 140 days and counting. Opportunities to achieve change are dwindling, but some still exist. So if you have not already engaged with the DMA or FEDMA to support its lobbying, do so now. Don’t sit back and wait for Sorrell to do it for you.