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Privacy and IP Top Last Week’s Tech Policy Agenda in Brussels

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The last week was a busy one for BSA in Brussels with several high profile events taking place on data protection and intellectual property.

On Tuesday, my colleague Thomas Boue joined the dais, along with BSA members Symantec, Microsoft and Intel, for the inaugural European Data Protection and Privacy Conference held in the European Parliament. The event convened data protection and privacy experts from Europe and around the world for a discussion about how to modernize and harmonize the data protection regulatory framework in the European Union (EU).

European Commission Vice President, Viviane Reding, opened the proceedings outlining her priorities for the review of the European Data Protection Directive currently underway: 1) strengthening the rights of individuals, and especially implementing the ‘right to be forgotten’; 2) improving harmonization within the Single Market; and 3) reinforcing data controllers’ responsibility by encouraging a ‘Privacy by Design’ approach and greater cooperation among data protection authorities.

BSA spoke on the last panel of the day, Defining the boundaries: When should data be classed as ‘personal’, about the need to process internet protocol (IP) addresses in order to ensure the security of online services, and to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) online. Without the ability to process IP addresses, hackers and other individuals can steal personal data from legitimate users without fear of being caught. We think a better approach is to focus on context in defining the boundaries of ‘personal’ data: IP addresses should be considered ‘personal’ only when the processor can identify the individual behind that IP address, and IP addresses should not be considered ‘personal’ when required to protect fundamental rights, such as IPR.

In addition, I had the pleasure of speaking at Brussels IP 2010, the pan-European Intellectual Property Summit last week. European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier and European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes both spoke at the event. On behalf of BSA, I chaired a panel addressing IPR theft and counterfeiting in China and Russia. Representatives from the music and trademark sectors participated in an interactive exchange with the European Commission DG Trade representative about the IPR challenges industry faces in these important markets. A good discussion took place around how industry and the EU can work together to leverage existing bilateral and multilateral initiatives, including ACTA, to limit counterfeiting and piracy in China and Russia. The panel concluded by calling on industry IPR holders to answer the European Commission’s 2010 IPR survey for third countries.

These were good discussions, and there is no doubt these two topics will remain high priorities for policymakers in Brussels in 2011.

Benoît Battistelli
European Patent Office President Benoît Battistelli gives a keynote speech during the plenary sessions at the IP Summit 2010.
Neelie Kroes
Keynote speech by Mrs Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.
Michel Barnier
EU Commissioner for Internal Market & Services Michel Barnier gives the opening address of the IP Summit 2010.
Thomas Leysen and Philippe de Buck
Thomas Leysen (center), President of FEB-VBO and Chairman of Umicore, and BusinessEurope Director General Philippe de Buck (right).

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