Portrait of Mr. Jan Albrecht

Portrait of Mr. Jan Albrecht

What does the current status of the Data Protection Regulation look like?

With the vast majority of the parliament voting for the Data Protection Regulation, we have set a clear sign that we wish to negotiate immediately with the council. We as the European Parliament and also the public in Europe should expect from the cabinet that an agreement will be reached by the cabinet this year. Firstly, this concerns the negotiation position of the member states. The next two years will be decisive for the IT economy in Europe. Each day, we let pass without a consistent regulation of the internal market, the competitive disadvantage of the European IT economy will become more prominent. As none of the member states can afford this, I am convinced that we will be able to stick to our schedule.

Why do you think the next two years will be decisive for the IT economy?

The next few years will show whether we manage to set a standard which enables us to establish trust and innovation power in the IT economy. A transpacific standard would  develop a crushing market power for the European IT economy. This would be a great threat for the European economy, as people in Europe could turn away from the IT economy. Europe has a great opportunity here to set a standard for confidentiality in the handling of digital goods and data. Such a standard must be socially responsible. The ridge between competitive advantage and competitive disadvantage is very narrow. The goal must be that everyone can apply the common standards to their field of activity. Even today, I see data protection as a competitive advantage already, if we focus on data protection-friendly technologies.

Why is a European standard important?

In Europe, we have a different understanding of data protection and privacy compared to other industrial nations outside the EU. It is therefore important to create a consistent framework for European and non-European market participants. The marketplace responsibility principle must also apply to non-European companies as these would otherwise benefit through hidden subventions. Only a fair and open market, where there is trust, can work in the long-term, so that start-ups as well as small and medium-sized companies continue to establish themselves within the EU. Currently, start-ups, small and medium-sized companies are disadvantaged compared to large corporations, as these small companies do not have the resources to make use of legal loop holes for their own benefit. Data protection can therefore be exported not only in an economical but also in a political sense, as a structure for basic rights in the handling of personal data worldwide.

What do you think about the Safe Harbor Regulation?

I am convinced that we must aim at a change in the transatlantic agreement. When and to which extent this change will come about, partly depends on us Europeans. In the States – in my opinion – it doesn’t depend on the cultural differences in the handling of data but rather on the fact that the political apparatus has been blocked for dynamical legislation for a long time.
Inside Europe, we must make clear that we wish to have a standard. I could imagine a revokation of the Safe Harbor Regulation, in order to bring all participants together at the table and agree on a set of rules for both sides. I am positive there will be an agreement as the US IT economy is depending on the simplified transatlantic data exchange, even though they sometimes indicate the contrary.

Which obstacles do you see for the creation of the standards in Europe?

The fact that we have managed to work through a regulation with 3,999 amendment requests in two years in order to create a compromise, which is carried by all parties and Euro sceptics, demonstrates that it is possible to create a new European framework. The member nations should take this as an example. I can see the responsibility with the member nations. This is about overcoming the scepticism, which views the creation of guidelines through the European Union as a disadvantage. This scepticism does not only prevail in politics but also with citizens, companies and politics. We must start rethinking and understand that a European level clearly offers more benefits than a national level.