The GSMA says that GDPR will be a major win for consumers but that telcos must remain one step ahead of the game

Businesses across Europe are locked in discussion over the best way to protect customer data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that engulfed Facebook last month. The ensuing scrutiny that fell upon the social media giant has put data protection front of mind for CEOs and board members across the continent. 

With new GDPR legislation coming in to play this Friday, European telcos are scrambling to ensure that they adequately protect the huge amounts of customer data that are transmitted across their networks. As GDPR comes into play this week, the GSMA has warned that telcos need to continue to focus their attention on data protection.

“Consumers should rightfully celebrate the new protections the GDPR brings them. The GDPR is driving up standards of responsible data governance, not only in the EU, but also around the world, stimulating efforts to find a common ground for data privacy," said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA.  

However, Giusti warns that GDPR could easily be undermined if the current regulatory imbalance between the telecommunications industry and other digital players is not resolved. 

"Telecom operators are still subject to additional obligations vis-à-vis other digital players imposed by the ePrivacy Directive. When the European Council shortly decides on their position on the proposal to replace the current directive with an ePrivacy Regulation (ePR), we must not ignore the impact of the ePR on both existing and future services that are critical to Europe’s digital growth. 

"Europe needs greater alignment between the ePR and the GDPR to support individuals’ fundamental rights, while permitting technological developments and spurring investment. Otherwise, this lack of consistency in European privacy regulation could harm consumers’ interests in the long term by denying them the potential benefits of new communications services in the future,” he added.