Data Protection Regulation SME Roundtable




The forthcoming data protection Regulation is the most significant set of regulations that will impact on all business in Europe to date.  As the legislation is in the form of a Regulation it becomes law automatically in every EU member state. Once the regulation is passed at EU level there is no possibility for a member state to make changes to the Regulation.   It is therefore essential that the regulation is a workable and thought-through piece of legislation.

IAB Ireland held a media briefing on Friday June 14th to inform the media about Irish SME’s concerns on aspects of the proposed Data Protection Regulation.

The legal basis that permits a company to process data lawfully is a key issue of concern in the Regulation. Many digital companies rely on user consent to process data. Under the draft Regulation the requirement for consent has changed to explicit consent for processing most types of data.

The proposed reform will place enormous additional burdens on SME companies and on startups, as it means for first party companies that their potential user base will be significantly reduced as users could potentially be obliged to register, rather than serendipitously discover a website. Further, pushing users through a registration process will mean that far more personal data is gathered, which is completely contrary to the spirit of the data protection regulation.

Speaking in relation to third party companies, John Patten, Director of Digitize said, “It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gather explicit consent on the websites on which adnetworks or site analytics companies operate as these companies do not have a direct relationship with the users from whom they would need to obtain explicit consent”.

The draft Regulation also includes a major extension of what is defined as “personal data” to include non-personally identifiable data including un-linked IP addresses (not associated with registration data) and cookies.

Eamonn Fallon CEO of Distilled Media said, “I would hate to see large parts of the web disappear behind login walls. This would be a terrible experience for users and may be an unfortunate side effect of the proposed Regulation. In broadening the definition of personal data to cover data such as IP addresses and cookies the only way companies like ours can legally run web analytics and third party adservers would be to force all our users to login”

Justin Cullen, MD of Radical and Director of Core Media spoke in relation to the needs of his clients across the business spectrum to process data for day-to-day operational needs and future planning. “The concept of pseudonymous data and a different set of legal obligations for this type of data must be incorporated in the Regulation for companies to be able to conduct their business and planning going forward”.

Seán Kelly, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on the data protection dossier provided an overview of the amendments he has tabled providing for a balanced Regulation both for users and industry.  “We are working hard at an EU level to ensure that the Regulation balances strong protection for consumer rights with the opportunity to facilitate SMEs in Ireland and across Europe to prosper in the digital economy“.

Suzanne McElligott, CEO of IAB Ireland thanked the media for attending the briefing.  “IAB and its members are committed to ensuring the creation of an effective Regulation of our digital sector. The purpose of our briefing today is to focus on the impact of key aspects of the proposed data protection law, which will also have an adverse affect on users’ privacy. IAB recommendations in respect of amendments to the Regulation propose a solution that ensures digital businesses can scale, innovate and grow the Irish and European economy while also providing protection of personal data of users.”


For further information please contact:

Suzanne McElligott, CEO, IAB Ireland, 086 2260403.

Notes to Editors


About IAB Ireland

IAB Ireland is the trade association for the Irish online advertising industry. As a not for profit organisation IAB Ireland works with members to ensure marketers can identify the best role for online in building their brands. IAB Ireland is a member of both IAB Europe and IAB US. The IAB network shares three core objectives, namely to prove, promote and protect the online advertising industry. These objectives are fulfilled through the dissemination of authoritative research, the organisation of educational events and by promoting industry-wide best practice.