Data breach notifications in Europe

Recent high profile incidents of personal data loss in Europe have prompted wide discussion about the level of security applied to personal information shared, processed, stored and transmitted electronically.

The Executive Director of ENISA, Prof. Udo Helmbrecht, commented: “Gaining and maintaining the trust of citizens of that their data is secure and protected is an important factor in the future development and take-up of innovative technologies and online services across Europe.”

The introduction of an EU DBN requirement for the electronic communication sector in ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC) is important to increase data security in Europe and to reassure citizens that their data is protected by e-communications operators.

ENISA has taken stock of the current situation by interviewing the national DPAs and a representative sample of companies. The telecommunications sector recognises that DBN have an important role for data protection and privacy. Yet, operators are seeking clarifications at both EU and local level as to comply with DBN requirements. The expectations of DPAs and operators in most cases overlap, but there are some discrepancies.

Key concerns raised by telecom operators and DPAs include:

Risk prioritization – The seriousness of a breach should determine the level of response. Breaches should be categorised according to risk levels to avoid ‘notification fatigue’.

Communication channels – Operators need assurances that notification requirements will not impact their brands in a negative way.

Resources – some regulatory authorities are already occupied with other priorities.

Enforcement – DPAs indicated that sanctioning authority enables them to better enforce regulations.

Undue Delay in reporting – Regulators wants short deadlines for reporting breaches. Service providers, however want to focus their resources on solving the problem.

Content of notification – Operators want to make sure the notification content does not impact negatively on customer relations. Regulators want all the necessary information.

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