A European e-privacy seal?


Wednesday 20 February 2013, a panel debate on e-privacy seals was held in the European Parliament: Communicating e-privacy and trust: the role of the ‘seal’. The meeting was chaired by Professor Douwe Korff (London Metropolitan University). Speakers attending were: MEP Sophie In ‘t Veld (the Netherlands, ALDE), MEP Seán Kelly (Ireland, EPP), Ken Ducatel (European Commission, Head of Unit DG CONNECT), Rosa Barcelo (European Commission, Policy Coordinator DG CONNECT), Kirsten Bock (EuroPriSe), Georgina Nelson (Which?, UK consumer association) and Pat Carroll (CEO Validsoft).

MEP In ‘t Veld kicked off the debate presenting her views on the relationship between privacy and innovation. She emphasised that ‘people want data protection’ and that the Data Protection package (Regulation + Directive) will increase (consumer) trust. For her, a privacy seal will be one of the crucial elements to improve this trust. It will i.a. push businesses to innovate and does not create any burdens, according to MEP In ‘t Veld.

Finding the balance between privacy and the freedom to conduct business was the angle of incidence of MEP Seán Kelly, the DPR Rapporteur of the ITRE committee (Industry, Research and Energy). He also thinks privacy seals are a good tool to improve trust. MEP Kelly linked this consumer trust directly to growth of the e-commerce business. In his point of view, the industry has an important role to play.

DG CONNECT, by mouth of Ken Ducatel and Rosa Barcelo, generally supports the idea of a privacy seal. Including dispute resolution was also mentioned as one of the elements of a good seal. A good seal will create a more level playing field according to Ducatel. On the question how this seal needed to be developed, DG CONNECT stated not wanting to impose it top-down, it wants to leave it to the market. Ken Ducatel warned the attendees on possible costs of a pan-European seal though. DG CONNECT is currently mapping other kinds of certificates (in cooperation with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and will publish a report on this early next year.

Have a look at The Parliament’s website for a more complete narrative of the event organised by EuroPrise, The Parliament and PA Europe.