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GDPR is a business opportunity, says Belgian minister

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation should not be viewed only as a compliance issue, says Belgium’s minister for privacy

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is really a business opportunity and should be viewed as such, according to Philippe De Backer, Belgium’s secretary of state for privacy.

“For many, the focus is on compliance challenges and on the huge fines for non-compliance,” he told EEMA’s ISSE 2017 conference in Brussels.

But in reality, said De Backer, the GDPR is an expansion of the ability to manage the use of data, and one of Belgium’s key aims in implementing the regulation is to create a level playing field between the public and private sectors to enable data exchange.

Belgium’s approach is that the public sector should comply with the highest standards of data protection because government is often dealing with a lot of sensitive data, such as health data, social security payments and pension payments.

“The GDPR is also about enabling companies to know what data they have, securing that data, and managing that data effectively to enable them to identify new business opportunities,” he said.

According to De Backer, the GDPR is effectively creating a global standard for data protection, and is therefore an opportunity for European businesses to offer products and services worldwide that comply with this standard.

This, in turn, enables trust between organisations and their customers, which he said is essential to doing business online and will be important to most businesses well into the future.

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