IAPP-GDPR Web Banners-300x250-FINAL

By Jennifer Baker, EU Correspondent

While many privacy professionals have their eyes firmly fixed on the EU’s ongoing data protection overhaul, a second law is also in the works that could have an equally big impact.

In February last year, the European Commission put forward its cybersecurity strategy, the main cornerstone of which is a Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive. The proposed Data Protection Regulation, currently being examined by the European Parliament, only covers security incidents where personal data is compromised. Therefore cyber attacks that do not target data would not need to be reported.

The NIS Directive would change that.

Who Should Be Concerned? Everyone

Under the NIS Directive, so-called “enablers of information society services” as well as companies that own, operate or provide technology for critical infrastructure facilities, would be required to report any security breach that "significantly affects the continuity of critical services and supply of goods" to a national authority.

This differs significantly from the U.S. approach, which focuses almost entirely on critical infrastructure. By extending the rules to include key Internet companies (those "information service providers"), the EU rules would apply to a vastly greater number of businesses.

Telecom companies are already required to report significant security incidents. The new directive would extend that to companies such as PayPal, Google, Amazon, eBay and Skype; other major Internet companies such as large cloud providers, social networks, e­commerce platforms and search engines; the banking sector, and those companies that provide goods or services to such owners, operators or vendors.

According to the commission, 93 percent of large corporations experienced a cyber attack in 2012, making it a commonplace occurrence. Yet nearly three quarters of 160 respondents to an online commission consultation said that the requirement to report cyber incidents would not incur any additional costs, and more than two thirds said that implementing a state-of-the-art NIS risk management system would not result in increased costs.


It will be up to member states how they write the directive into national law, so sanctions for failing to report an incident will vary from country to country. However, Article 15 stipulates that member states must investigate all cases of noncompliance.

They must also appoint a competent authority with the power to carry out security audits and to require market operators and public administrations to provide network security information. The draft directive text also requires "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" sanctions for noncompliance.

Once an “incident” has been reported to a national authority, it shall be required to designate a contact agency that is responsible for sharing information about cyber threats with other countries as well as the ENISA. This authority "may require that the public be informed," but a public announcement will not be mandatory.


The directive is currently being debated by the European Parliament and various amendments have already been suggested.

French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat has suggested that the standard of protection required of organizations should differ based on the extent of damage that could be caused in the event of a breach of the protections put in place by each organization.

Another proposal is to delay the implementation of the NIS Directive until after the new Data Protection Regulation is finalized.

Further changes to the text are likely. As it stands, however, EU member states would have 18 months to write it into their national legislation, although there have been proposals in the European Parliament to shorten this to 12 months.

The Data Protection Regulation may be garnering everyone’s attention at the moment, but in reality the Cybersecurity Directive could have far more wide-reaching reporting requirements.

To whom in the organization would these reporting requirements fall? It could be the IT team or it could be the same compliance team now tasked with privacy considerations. Regardless, organizations would be wise to figure out responsibilities now in anticipation of not one, but two significant pieces of legislation making their way toward becoming law.

Jennifer Baker is a full-time journalist working out of Brussels for the likes of IDG News Service (Computerworld, PCWorld), European Voice, NewEurope and now for the IAPP. She covers IT and privacy policy developments. Find her on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek.


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Advertise in IAPP Publications

Find out how to get your message in front the people you want to reach. Download a media kit now.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Registration Open

New! Intensive two-day GDPR training led by the sharpest minds in the field. It's a can't-miss event.

The Congress Is Cancelled

The IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2015 is cancelled. Click through to learn more.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»