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Data Privacy and Cyber-security in the telecoms sector

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19 June 2019

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Use and protection of customer data

The rapid development of the regulation of data and online security which has accompanied – or sometimes trailed – technological developments over the last few decades is increasingly affecting telcos, posing growing challenges for their businesses and customer relationships.

Data: key asset and key risk

The telecoms business is increasingly data rich and the tools available to exploit user data are developing rapidly. User data is a valuable resource both for telcos and for a wide range of potential partners looking to provide value-added services. These opportunities need to be assessed against a constantly evolving regulatory background, as countries across the world introduce new data privacy laws, on varying models, and the EU pursues a comprehensive revamp of its data protection framework.

Cyber-security is a legal issue

Cyber-security is a critical issue for the telecoms sector. Networks are vulnerable to cyber-attack from criminals and terrorists, activists, hostile governments and insiders. For network operators this may appear to be primarily a technical issue, but the legal and regulatory consequences are equally important. Understanding the legal framework that sets the standards and notification requirements, and the benefit of expert, privileged legal advice, will be vital to managing cyber-security incidents.

Privacy vs. retention

Telcos are caught between users’ desire for privacy and increasing regulatory demands for retention and access to data. Absent a global consensus on cyber-security issues, one country’s lawful demand for access to data for national security purposes may be another country’s unlawful cyber-security incident. Multinational businesses need to understand the sometimes conflicting rules in all jurisdictions in which they operate