One-sided arguments in new EU General Data Protection Regulation

NEWS Published

PERSONAL DATA The proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation is causing businesses to sound warning bells. Rene Summer, of Telecoms giant Ericsson, fears that new ways of handling personal data will complicate investment in data driven innovation.

Pär Nygårds

Pär Nygårds, economic policy expert for the industry association Swedish IT & Telecom Industries.

Foto: Anna Simonsson

Several Swedish companies risk being caught unawares if they fail to overhaul their IT-systems before the new EU data protection regulation takes effect. Tougher requirements on protecting personal data and electronically stored information are expected. And, it will be harder to erase your digital tracks. Other additions include how companies handle online risks and what costs information leakage may entail.

One article in the proposal requires consent from the consumer before a company handles personal data. Another concerns individuals’ right to demand their data be erased.

The EU regulation has yet to be finalised. It has made its rounds in the various EU institutions and been delayed several times. At best the new rules can be in place by year end.

In negotiations, Sweden has argued for considering the needs of Swedish administrative authorities, companies, private individuals, and the research community related to processing personal data.

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has also regularly emphasized the importance of having joint, high quality data indexes from different countries in order to facilitate innovative research and the growth of new products and services. The use of bulk data should be simplified, as significant commercial, individual, and societal advantages can be gained from it.

"There is much at stake. Should the EU be able to formulate regulations benefiting innovation, it would result in consumers, students, and patients gaining access to an enormous surge of development in terms of products, treatments, and services," says Carolina Brånby, head of digital policy at the Swedish Confederation of Enterprise.

The current Swedish model for personal data protection is based on the misuse principle, that is, freedom under responsibility.

"The system functions well, facilitating companies’ processing of personal data, provided they behave," says Pär Nygårds, economic policy expert for the industry association Swedish IT & Telecom Industries.

The proposed EU model is based on the principle that anything not expressly permitted is forbidden. The clear risk is that the regulation will compel creating an expensive, slow-moving bureaucracy that weighs on companies’ ability to develop and offer innovative data driven services," Per Nygårds fears. "Why not learn from countries like Sweden instead? We are global leaders in data driven services and still have a high level of confidence that our personal data is processed fairly."

The proposal to change responsibility roles worries the Swedish IT & Telecom Industries. The current data protection regulation clearly distinguishes between the operator processing the data and the business responsible to ensure processing is done correctly. The proposed regulation creates shared responsibility.

"Sharing responsibility make these roles less clear, and risks worsening protections. The intention may be good, but this disrupts something that already works well," argues Pär Nygårds.

In his view, the fines and sanctions proposed raise additional worries. He feels that the original EU Commission proposal, the European Parliament's revised version, and the European Council's stand point are too far-reaching.

"The proposed fines are far too high. Wrongfully processing personal data should naturally have consequences, to create confidence and benefit serious operators. But it is equally important that sanctions are balanced, reasonable, based on the damage caused. Otherwise it could mean a general cooling in interest to develop and invest in data driven services. But this, paradoxically, contradicts the Commission’s own emphasis that these services are central to European general competitiveness.”

Pär Nygårds feels the EU proposal is heavily biased, as negotiations now continue.

"It focuses too heavily on the individual's need for protection at the expense of the opportunity to responsibly process data and create value for both society at large, the economy, and the individual," he concludes.

At Ericsson, apprehension is spreading. René Summer, Director Government & Industry Relations, encourages Swedish companies to contact politicians and explain how the regulation undermines competitiveness and hampers innovation and digitalisation of their operations.

"Sweden, with like-minded EU members, must take the lead in showing that integrity and innovation can be combined. We have a good risk assessment processes, and we have good personal data protection based on the Swedish Data Protection Act. A fundamental worsening relates to responsibility, as compared with the current situation. The proposal significantly restricts the commercial prospects of Swedish and European outsourcing businesses,” Rene Summer states.

The proposal’s negative tone regarding technology and innovation, he feels, is due to EU political failure to understand the importance of having well-balanced personal data processing. Sweden already has a successful approach in this field, which we need to foster, he feels.

"An unnecessarily expansive definition of personal data, more formalities regarding consent for personal data, and restricted ability to perform various data analyses, decreases Ericsson's ability to invest in data driven innovation, which ultimately improves their business.”

Quick facts:  
  • The EU's new General Data Protection Regulation replaces the Data Protection Regulation currently in force, and which is the basis of Sweden's Data Protection Act (PUL).
  • A regulation is more binding than a directive. The new ordinances becomes the law in all member states.
  • When the law has been passed, countries are given two years to implement them.
  • The aim is to strengthen citizens' control over their own data, but also to make it easier for companies that process data and operate in several different countries.
  • The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has channelled their viewpoint via Business Europé.
  • The opinion of a new General Data Protection Regulation varies from country to country in the EU. Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Ireland, see advantages with using indexes and other kinds of bulk data.



NEWS Published:

Questions vital for the future of the industry

SEMINAR The Swedish Construction Federation and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani (RE) have organised a seminar "Building Europe - Future of work the construction” in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Anna Stellinger: Director of International and EU Affairs at Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

NEW LINE OF WORK Anna Stellinger today takes up the newly created position of Director of International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. She will also join the management team.
NEWS Published:

Review the Swedish Exemption Regarding Financial Transactions

TAX The VAT exemption regarding financial transactions is often used in Sweden as an argument to raise taxes in the financial sector. However, the exemption is harming the business climate as well as growth and development.
NEWS Published:

EU lose much of its attraction without the single market

EU A fully developed single market is central to fight climate change, promote sustainable development, to fully harness the potential of digitalisation and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Without the single market, the EU would lose much of its attraction.
NEWS Published:

Proposals for competitiveness

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in co-operation with its experts and membership organizations, has produced concrete proposals for measures to ensure that Europe will maintain its competitiveness in the global arena.
NEWS Published:

How EU-decisions affect Swedish companies

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has evaluated how the major decisions taken within the EU during the last mandate period affect Swedish companies. Our evaluation shows that 24 of the 57 legal acts we have chosen to look at have been positive for Swedish companies.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

EU 24 million small and mid-sized businesses are the greatest asset within EU. "Regulations must be dealt with to give SME-companies the opportunity to reach their full potential", says  Anna-Lena Bohm, chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

BUSINESS There are 24 million small and mid-sized businesses, so called SME businesses, in Europe. These companies are a great – if not the greatest – asset when it comes to tackling todays economical and social challenges.
NEWS Published:

The Nordic countries need to block EU assault on tax veto

TAX For countries with a common currency and a limited common budget, it is particularly important to be able to pursue an active national fiscal policy when an external shock is encountered, writes Claes Hammarstedt.
NEWS Published:

Artificial intelligence on everybody’s mind

EVENT Artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind in the EU capital. The European Commission recently launched its strategy for artificial intelligence, which focuses on promoting research and development of AI across European sectors.
NEWS Published:

AI made in EU

JOINT EFFORT The EU-commission has presented a joint effort with Member States to promote the development and use of artificial intelligence, AI, in Europe. To strengthen AI-technology and uptake in Europe is welcome. Swedish Enterprise believes that the conditions within Europe must be strengthened in order to successfully improve the global competitiveness of our companies. Here are our thoughts and proposals.
NEWS Published:

Swedish expert represents European industry in expert group on AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s digital expert Carolina Brånby is representing BusinessEurope in the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, AI HLEG. Their role is drafting ethical guidelines, and to create recommendations on how to strengthen the uptake of AI within the EU.
NEWS Published:

What impact of the Social Pillar on EU prosperity?

The EU’s approach to social policy is currently changing. In November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) was proclaimed as a visionary document setting up goals for an upward convergence in this area. In this year’s State of Union address, the president of the EU-commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted that “It is time we turned the good intentions that we proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit into law”. And, as a matter of fact, this process is well under way.
NEWS Published:

The entrepreneurial perspective is being neglected in the EU digitalisation process

The digital single market is a hot topic in the EU right now. Sweden has plenty of confidence when it comes to digitalisation, which does by its nature transcends all borders. The government’s overall goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation. But unfortunately the entrepreneurial perspective usually comes second when the European countries attempts to create a digital inner market.
NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.