Annual Survey: Bitkom draws mixed conclusion regarding GDPR implementation

  • Companies pay more attention to data protection
  • Three out of four companies see data protection as the biggest obstacle for deploying new technologies

Berlin, 16 May 2019 - Almost a year has passed since the GDPR has entered into force. Since then, companies and other organisations have to comply with additional information obligations, need to create processing directories for personal data, and are obliged to incorporate data protection principles in all products, starting from the earliest phases of the production process. Bitkom sees positive developments through the GDPR, but also great potential for improvement. “We have harmonised rules across the EU. With the GDPR, the EU has set standards across the globe. It sets the tone for international players as well as important trading partners”, says Bitkom president Achim Berg. However, there are obvious deficits with regard to practical implementation and enforcement of rules. “Member states, data protection authorities and companies all interpret the Regulation in different ways”, according to Berg.

Bitkom highlights that there are still major legal uncertainties in the application of the regulation. “This is problematic for the private sector, particularly since the GDPR does not differentiate between global players and, for instance, the local handyman. Indeed, larger companies gain an advantage over SMEs through the harmonised framework, since the costs associated with the adjustment are more burdensome for the latter”. For many companies, daily business operations thus run into data protection hurdles.

All in all, the GDPR has fundamentally transformed the economy. Berg: “Awareness for data protection is higher on all sides, which is very positive. However, in the run-up to the GDPR review, the legislator should lay out how bureaucracy can be reduced and how legal ambiguities can be addressed”. Data protection authorities should strive for closer dialogue with companies and support them on data protection questions affecting their daily business”. In reality, the majority of businesses feels disadvantaged because of the GDPR.  Three out of four (74 %) see data protection requirements as the main obstacle for the uptake of new technologies. Last year, only 63%, and in 2017 only 45% of companies shared this opinion, as emphasised by a representative Bitkom survey. “Data protection rules should not lead to companies falling behind technologically. In the end, we have to find a workable balance between data protection and innovative products based on data”, says Bitkom president Berg.

Susanne Dehmel

Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung Recht & Sicherheit
Bitkom e.V.

Benjamin Ledwon

Head of Brussels Office

Bitkom e.V.