Pressure mounts in EU to treat Facebook and Twitter as critical infrastructure

The move would subject them to the rules on network protection and data breach notification as banks and energy networks.

Flags in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 17, 2015

Flags in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 17, 2015

Pressure is mounting in the European Union to subject companies including Google, Twitter, eBay and Facebook to the same critical IT infrastructure security requirements as banks or energy networks.

EU lawmakers want providers of essential services in industries including banking, health care, transport and energy to protect their networks from hackers, and to disclose data breaches to the authorities.

The European Commission, which proposed the draft Network and Information Security Directive two years ago, also wants it to cover enablers of key Internet services, such as e-commerce platforms, Internet payment gateways, social networks, search engines, cloud computing services and app stores. The European Parliament, however, rejected their inclusion in the critical infrastructure rules last year.

On Wednesday ambassadors of the EU member states sided with the Commission and gave their go-ahead for the Council of the EU, the third body with a say in the shape of the law, to continue negotiations with the Commission and Parliament on Monday.

Treating social media and e-commerce companies as critical parts of the Internet infrastructure will impose additional costs on them for meeting the same stringent security rules as other essential services. At the same time, social media users stand to benefit because their personal data should be better protected, and they would receive quicker notification in the event their data were stolen.

One point open for debate is how to define which companies are critical infrastructure.

Internet companies want to play down their importance so as to avoid additional regulatory constraints on their businesses. The Computer and Communications Industry Association, representing, eBay, Facebook, Google and others, wants the rules to apply only to things such as nuclear power plants and transportation facilities.

Parliament removed these companies from its draft of the law in March 2014, as Members of the European Parliament had too many questions about how the rules would apply.

The Council of the EU, composed of representatives of the member states, wants these digital platforms to remain within the scope of the law, a Council official said Wednesday. However, it wants to subject Internet companies to a different -- as yet undefined -- set of rules than those governing banks and payment services.

Meanwhile, the Parliament still does not want to include Internet companies in the directive's scope, a Parliament official said.

Another source in the Parliament expected Monday's negotiations to focus on the definition of critical infrastructures and how to identify them, rather than on whether Internet companies should be included, an opinion echoed by the Council official, who predicts at least one more meeting will be needed.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Council of the European Unionsecurityeuropean commissiontwitterEuropean ParliamentFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers, Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?