E-commerce is a recognised and integral part of the European economy, which is increasing its presence year by year. During the 4th Annual European E-commerce Conference, members of tech businesses, consumer groups and EU policy makers, discussed the potential impact that the latest data protection proposals of the European Commission can have on this online sector.
According to EMOTA , the European Multi-channel and Online Trade Association, and , the European Digital Media Association, e-commerce will reach a turnover of €300 billion this year. But to achieve this objective, is necessary to know which are the implications of the data protection rules and how they can benefit users.
All the speakers during the conference agreed on the presence of framework to protect consumers' data. Users already have experience on e-legislations, “online tracking is an example that changed consumers' direction”, explained Danilo Labovic, Managing Director of EMEA, and the EU e-Directive has created more awareness: they prefer to visit sites that comply with this “cookie directive”, he stated.
There is a lack of trust among the citizens related with their personal information, but “we can offer data protection”, said Peter Hustinx, member of the European Data Protection Supervisor. “We need very strong intervention mechanisms”, he explained, “and the possibility of imposing specific behaviour exists, if a good responsibility is not happening.”
However, not everyone accepts Commission's proposal, which was presented in January. According to the UK’s Justice Committee, the body drew up two documents -a data protection directive and a regulation-, and both contain different rules.
“We are proposing legislation on how apply a fundamental right. This is not “e-Privacy Directive 2”, but it's online as well”, said Thomas Zerdick, Policy Officer-Data Protection on the DG Justice at the European Commission. However, we need “one single law, only one text”, based on individual control of personal data, simply rules, a consistent internal market approach and harmonisation between all the authorities, he explained.
Because “in the online environment is very easy to lose trust”, businesses and institutions must be transparent and clear, stated Razvan Antemir, Legal Affairs Adviser of EMOTA. “There are still a lot of questions and we need an easy framework.”
Speakers explained that both regulators and citizens have the responsibility of taking care of their information. Besides, they highlighted that with e-commerce, cross-borders are a reality and measures are also needed when consumers buy products to other countries that are not European.