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NAVIGATING REGULATION ROADBLOCKS

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Decline in banking

Stephen Midgley, VP Global Marketing, Absolute Software

It’s been a busy decade for data privacy. Incidents such as Edward Snowden, the computer analyst whistleblower who leaked top-secret NSA documents, have thrust the issues further in to the public’s consciousness. Before that, Private Manning made Julian Assange a household name after he was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act for leaking the largest ever set of classified documents to the public via WikiLeaks. Worldwide more than 575 million data records were lost or stolen in 2013, including over 1.6 million UK records.

As a result, regulation exists that aims to combat instances of data loss, but it’s a minefield and has spawned a climate of confusion due to its disparate nature and lack of transparency. There is little understanding of what exactly is in place, the impact of breaking these rules and what is on the horizon. So what can businesses do to navigate and understand the implications of these complex regulations? This year will finally see the establishment of clear and enhanced worldwide privacy regulation and, as a result, data protection compliance can begin to take a front seat in the decision-making processes of anyone involved in the management of data.

Navigating Regulation Roadblocks

Navigating Regulation Roadblocks

So what should you look out for? In March, the European Parliament approved the draft Data Protection Regulation. This regulation will replace the Data Protection Directive – legislation written in 1995 that has become unwieldy in the mature internet era in its attempts to account for the likes of the cloud, social media and apps. The document will ‘create greater harmonisation across member states’ by giving more power to the users of online services, increasing regulatory enforcement and focusing on transparency in the way data is used and shared. It also proposes stronger safeguards for EU citizens’ data that gets transferred abroad. However, there will be the expectation that business will adopt more proactive governance structures to manage privacy risk, and it considerably increases the fines that can be imposed on companies that break the rules.

The most recent piece of UK legislation news concerns the Data Retention Directive, or the ‘snooper’s charter’, as some media has quipped. This Directive aims to allow collection and storage of data from UK citizens’ internet and phone use for up to 12 months for later examination. In a judgement delivered in April, the European Court of Justice declared the Directive illegal because it “interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”. Very little has been written about this Directive, but essentially it has a similar focus to the draft Data Protection Regulation. However  it takes a different angle on data handling, focussing on how public authorities investigate criminal activities.

This move to update regulation is not confined to the EU and activity here is being reflected globally as international data privacy laws rapidly expand in complexity and reach. New legislation has emerged in Asia, South Africa, many South American countries and the US is a hive of activity in the wake of Snowden. Even for businesses that don’t operate beyond the EU, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground as these laws develop as they are likely to influence thinking on these shores.

The emergence of this whole tier of new regulation is not to be sniffed at – the fact is there are now huge penalties for losing data. The ICO can fine companies up to £500,000 for breaches of the Data Protection Act. Indeed in March, data protection law specialist Kathryn Wynn of Pinsent Masons claimed the UK government should consider raising the level of fines that the ICO can impose, as it would reinforce the importance of data security. Regulators are also now proposing fines up to five per cent of global corporate turnover. And for those operating in the financial sector the Financial Conduct Authority can impose unlimited monetary penalties for businesses that slip up with data.

It’s clear that compliance should be front of mind for organisations of every size. And to do this, there must be clarity on how data is classified, distinct data classification protocols should exist and clearly communicated policies must be put in place – and actioned.

Businesses must also be mindful of the endpoint. Data leaks often come from vulnerable devices and uneducated end users. IT decision makers must invest in tools that help mitigate against this and ensure staff are educated on the value of data. This is made all the more pertinent when considering the results of our recent Mobile Enterprise Risk research survey, which found that 23% of employees claim that data security is not their responsibility and only 63% of those surveyed claim there is a formal procedure in place when a device is lost.

Implementing these steps will help to secure the operational areas of IT, security and data management and ultimately help identify and manage risks early and coherently. Only then can you ensure your business is neither confounded nor punished by the current backdrop of complex and shifting regulation.

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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