On April 26, Fabasoft and Report Verlag hosted the Vienna TechSalon to discuss the highly current topic “data protection and privacy” with a panel of renowned experts. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into effect this year and needs to be implemented by all member states by 2018. At the same time, the “Safe Harbour” framework on data transfer with the United States has been declared invalid. Companies are therefore increasingly facing the question: What are the expectations concerning the new regulations? What are the consequences for businesses? The panelists Max Schrems – lawyer, author and data protection activist, Rainer Knyrim – partner at Preslmayr Rechtsanwälte, as well as Helmut Fallmann – member of the Managing Board of Fabasoft AG, provided an overview of the current situation and then answered many questions raised by a large audience.
The experts of the Fabasoft TechSalon agreed that a lot of preparatory work was lying ahead of European businesses before the new General Data Protection Regulation would come into effect in the spring of 2018. According to the panelists, the strict European regulations on data protection will not be a handicap – on the contrary, they may well be a clear competitive advantage for the European economy given the fact that the desire for security and privacy is on the rise worldwide.
When the new EU-US data protection agreement, the so-called “Privacy Shield”, was first presented, Max Schrems compared it to a “pig brushed up with a bit of lipstick”, without any legal value for data protection. In the end, the agreement would once again be taken to the European Court of Justice. He reinforced his position at the Fabasoft TechSalon: “European businesses have to adhere to strict data protection regulations while they are competing with US suppliers who are partly operating completely freely. For this reason, both consumers as well as the economy should be highly interested in meaningful data protection agreements with third countries.” Schrems regards the new GDPR as a solid foundation for data protection in Europe. It is a “strong framework with severe, high penalties” which can reach up to 25 million euros or four percent of a company’s global revenue. In Europe, data protection infringements are therefore no longer trivial offences.
Dr. Rainer Knyrim, partner at Preslmayr Rechtsanwälte, was also positive about the new regulation while highlighting that the rising complexity of the framework would certainly make matters more difficult for Austrian and European businesses. “We are now eagerly awaiting the Austrian accompanying legislation on data protection, with a draft to be expected for the end of the year”, said Knyrim. The lawyer also explained the different approaches concerning the adherence to GDPR. For example, international data transfer will be possible with standard contractual clauses issued by the data protection authority.
Helmut Fallmann, host and member of the Managing Board of Fabasoft AG, is a proponent of data protection and privacy. He emphasized that the competitive advantage of “company know-how” needed stronger protection, particularly with regard to personal data. “We are living at a time when privacy has finally become something worth defending again. With our data protection, Europe can once again become a global model”, Fallmann is convinced. “With this goal in mind, the conditions for data transfer to third countries need to be worked out in a better way than was the case with Safe Harbour.”
More than 120 guests participated in the lively discussion with questions highlighting very different angles. Talks continued well into the event’s social part high above the roofs of Vienna’s central railway station.