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Europe sets up a date with data destiny 

Ansip wants better data-sharing, Vestager wants to stop anticompetitive data-sharing, meanwhile 500 million hacked Yahoo users just want to know where their data is.

Europe should not be afraid of data.
That was the key message delivered by the EU's digital single market (DSM) commissioner Andrus Ansip in a speech that was published on the European Commission's Website this week.
"Data is the basis of our digital future and prosperity. Data will drive our competitiveness and economic growth," he said.
However, for data to realise its potential, it must be allowed to soar majestically across borders, free from the shackles of localisation rules, which Ansip claims do not offer better protection, and only result in fragmentation.
"This will be to the detriment of benefits for citizens, consumers, SMEs and society," he warned.
As long as the public institutions of individual countries, such as law enforcement or tax authorities, have ready access to the data they need in order to do their jobs properly, it shouldn't matter where the data is stored, he said. This is because the recently-adopted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will ensure a "gold standard" of oversight and enforcement.
"It is possible to ensure more security and more effective data protection safeguards without any artificial rules on data localisation," Ansip insisted.
A compelling pitch, but Ansip will have to tread very carefully the minute something goes wrong – like a high-profile data breach – if he doesn't want his dream of cross-border data sharing to go up in smoke.
Whenever something like a data breach happens, consumers immediately want someone to blame; 'one throat to choke', as they say in business circles. If the PR fallout is not handled properly, Ansip's throat could conceivably be the one that everyone wants to wrap their hands around.
Statistics released this week by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) show that Ansip still has work to do to convince people of the merits of sharing data.
According to the research, 57% of U.K. consumers do not trust brands to use their data responsibly, and a whopping 70% do not see the benefit of sharing their data at all.
It gets worse: 71% of those surveyed by the CIM said they do not feel comfortable with sharing their location data, and 68% are uncomfortable sharing data included on their social media profile.
"Our new research shows that people are nervous about sharing personal data – fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert," said CIM chief executive Chris Daly, in a blog post on Tuesday.
One voice from within the European Commission itself also urged caution regarding the use of data this week.
In a separate speech that was also published online, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said data is an asset that has the potential to be abused to the detriment of competition and consumers.
If companies share too much information about their businesses with one another, "it might become too easy for them to coordinate their actions, rather than competing to cut prices and improve their products," she warned.
However, she insisted that she is not opposed to rival companies pooling data, "as long as companies make sure they do it the right way."
Data could also be an important factor in how a merger could affect competition, Vestager continued.
"A company might even buy up a rival just to get hold of its data, even though it hasn't yet managed to turn that data into money," she explained. "We are therefore exploring whether we need to start looking at mergers with valuable data involved, even though the company that owns it doesn't have a large turnover."
Speaking of valuable data, around 500 million Yahoo members still want to know why it took the company two years to discover and disclose the theft of their personal information.
In an SEC filing by Yahoo earlier in September that relates to its acquisition by Verizon, the company said there had not been any security breaches involving the "loss, theft, unauthorised access or acquisition, modification, disclosure, corruption or other misuse of any personal data in [the] seller's or the business subsidiaries' possession."
However, a source cited by the Financial Times late last week insisted that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was aware in July of a potential data breach.
If this is true, it could land Yahoo in hot water with the SEC.
This week a group of U.S. senators led by Democrat Patrick Leahy wanted to know why an attack that allegedly took place in 2014 was only disclosed in 2016.
"User information was first compromised in 2014, yet the company only announced the breach last week. That means millions of Americans' data may have been compromised for two years. This is unacceptable," said the senators, in a letter to Mayer on Tuesday. "Consumers put their trust in companies when they share personal and sensitive information with them, and they expect all possible steps be taken to protect that information."
Hopefully affected Yahoo users will get some answers soon.
With all this in mind, perhaps the message should be: embrace data...carefully.
Source: Total Telecom