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 Amazon.com, 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 loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebooktwittereuropean commissionEuropean ParliamentCouncil of the European Union

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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?