Telecoms operators are confused about what they need to do to comply with EU rules

The EU’s ‘cyber security’ Agency ENISA, (the European Network and Information Security Agency) issued a report on data breach notifications.

The agency’s report identified the key concerns for both telecom operators and the data protection authorities.

Recent high profile incidents of personal data loss in Europe have prompted wide discussion about the level of security applied to personal information shared, processed, stored and transmitted electronically.

The Executive Director of the Agency, Professor Udo Helmbrecht, commented: “Gaining and maintaining the trust of citizens of that their data is secure and protected is an important factor in the future development and take-up of innovative technologies and online services across Europe.”

Electronic communications companies are bound by the ePrivacy Directive of 2002 but operators are seeking clarification on what they need to do to comply.

Key concerns raised by telecom operators and DPAs include:

Risk Prioritisation
The seriousness of a breach should determine the level of response. Breaches should be categorised according to risk levels to avoid ‘notification fatigue’.

Communication Channels
Operators need assurances that notification requirements will not impact their brands in a negative way.

Some regulatory authorities are already occupied with other priorities

DPAs indicated that sanctioning authority enables them to better enforce regulations.

Undue Delay in reporting
Regulators wants short deadlines for reporting breaches. Service providers, however want to focus their resources on solving the problem.

Content of Notifications
Operators want to make sure the notification content does not impact negatively on customer relations. Regulators want all the necessary information.

In 2011 the Agency will develop guidelines for implementing the data protection rules. It will also analyse the possibility of extending data notification obligations to other sectors, e.g. the financial sector, health care, and small businesses.

The subject is due to be discussed at a workshop in Brussels on January 24.