London: Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA, offered the following statement as the GSMA, Cable Europe, ECTA and ETNO today call for harmonised data protection policies for the benefit of innovation and consumers in Europe:

“In the early 1990’s, European policy makers developed specific privacy rules for telecommunications services.  This action, taken before public access to the Internet was widespread, addressed specific concerns about the privacy risks of new services being delivered over traditional telecommunications networks. However, the situation today is very different and consumers now access a vast array of services over the Internet.  These new services, such as “messaging” and “search”, are delivered by a wide range of online companies, based around the world, and are made possible by the ‘open’ and global nature of the Internet.

“The impact of the Internet’s growth in the last two decades has been profound and it is now time to rethink the way user privacy is protected.  It no longer makes sense to have specific regulation focussed on telecommunications infrastructure, as was first conceived.  Instead, policy and regulation should focus on addressing the specific privacy risks faced by individual users, irrespective of the way a service is delivered.  Privacy regulation fit for the 21st century should be technology and service-provider neutral.  The current situation is a legacy of the pre-Internet era and has created market distortions, with different privacy rules and consumer rights applying to the same services, simply because they are delivered by different technologies and/or different types of company.  This is bad for consumer confidence and could undermine the market’s development.

“Recent GSMA research has shown that users also believe the same rules should apply to any party using their data.  Policy makers should therefore move quickly to establish a level playing field.”


About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries and territories, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo. 

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