The Czech politician charged with steering the EU data protection reforms through the European Parliament is facing the axe before her first day in the office after bungling her confirmation hearing in front of MEPs.
Vera Jourová has been put forward by EC president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker to succeed justice minister Viviane Reding, who stepped down in May.
However, she failed to convince under a grilling from MEPs who were judging her suitability for the role. She was not alone; at least three other candidates, including Conservative peer Lord Hill, were given a rough ride, sparking calls for a reshuffle of candidates.
In her closing remarks Jourová was even forced to improvise as she forgot her printed speech. She concluded: “I am tired after three hours but it was really interesting to give you my comments. I am a politician not a civil servant maybe I was not too detailed.”
The move comes as a new study claims fewer than a quarter (23%) of all firms are confident they comply with existing data protection laws – passed in 1993 – let alone new ones.
Despite 84% of 1,500 of staff polled in the UK, France and Germany saying Europe needs stronger data protection laws, a whopping 77% are not confident their organisations comply with current legislation.
This means only 23% are completely confident their policies are fit for purpose, according to the survey commissioned by security firm Sophos.
Some 91% of respondents had at least one safeguard in place when it came to protecting personal data, yet only 59% had anti-virus protection. And almost half said their organisation either did not have a data protection policy in place, or had not told employees about one.
While some may point to this simply being down to a lack of awareness, others will claim the current way the legislation is policed – most data protection regulators only investigate firms after complaints – puts customer data at risk.
The survey, aimed at gauging professionals’ understanding of data protection ahead of the proposed EU reforms, showed knowledge and awareness of data encryption is poor. A fifth said their organisations are not encrypting personal data, while a quarter said they did not know if their organisation was using data encryption, and 7% admitted not knowing what encryption was.
Only 23% could confirm their organisations encrypted employee and customer data.
The report also examined user attitudes to mobile device security to gauge the level of awareness about the threat from a so-called “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy.
A quarter confessed to storing corporate data on their personal laptops and mobile phones, with 19% revealing they had lost a device. When it came to securing mobile devices, the majority (64%) said their organisations did implement passwords to secure mobile devices.
However, only 31% of those with company phones were able to confirm they were encrypted, compared with 51% confirming their company laptops were encrypted.
Sophos director of data protection Anthony Merry believes at the very least the new legislation will raise awareness about the importance of data protection.
However, he added: “Many of the companies I talk to still do not understand what data protection is, why businesses need to do it and why it is important, and that needs to change.”
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