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Big Data 26 Feb 2019

Data privacy, security, and portability: the keys to promoting innovation in Europe

The European Commission (EC) is convening institutions, businesses, and regulators today and tomorrow in BBVA's headquarters in Madrid with the aim of promoting security and privacy measures that will stimulate greater use of cloud services and the free flow of data in Europe's digital single market (DSM). BBVA is hosting the event and is an active member of the EC working group, which is seeking to standardize security certification for cloud providers and establish a code of conduct that will facilitate data portability and the ability to switch providers.


The end goal of these endeavors is to accelerate the adoption of cloud technologies and simplify the free flow of data, elements that are considered essential for the European economy and business competitiveness. Currently, a mere 26 percent of EU businesses are using cloud services, as pointed out by Pierre Chastanet, Head of the Cloud & Software Unit of the EC’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG-CONNECT), who attended the event.

For his part, Ricardo Forcano, Global Head of Engineering and Organization at BBVA, noted during the opening of the event that, according to EC estimates, wider adoption of cloud based services could add an additional €449 billion to Europe’s GDP in 2028, with a significant impact on employment and business creation.

Forcano welcomed the more than 220 participants and emphasized the importance of public-private collaborative frameworks, like the one promoted by the EC. “The public-private partnership model will engender a more dynamic single digital market, inspiring greater trust from European citizens,” asserted Forcano, who emphasized the fundamental role of data in BBVA's strategy.

BBVA is looking at how it can better offers customer value-added services through the use of data driven insights - done with consent and express approval. BBVA believes that customers are the sole proprietors of their data, and they should have control over how it is used and by whom. “All of us, including the regulators, should recognize data ownership as a fundamental human right, with all that that implies in terms of privacy, liberty, and equality.” Forcano stressed as he addressed  European officials, business representatives, and technology providers attending the event.


Pierre Chastanet (European Commission) and Ricardo Forcano (BBVA) during the event at BBVA's headquarters in Madrid.

For Forcano, protecting user privacy cannot run counter to innovation. On this subject, he stressed the importance of removing the obstacles that hinder the free flow of data between European countries such as data localization requirements, regulatory uncertainty about data storage and processing, and the difficulties associated with switching cloud providers.

“The challenges represented by data are fundamental to any business in any sector; finance is no exception. Today we are still faced with obstacles that impede the widespread adoption of cloud technologies and the creation of new business models. Changing this situation serves as a key opportunity for Europe, an opportunity to encourage innovation based on data and European business competitiveness in a international, digital market,” he commented.

International certificates

Of the proposals presented by BBVA to the EC to overcome these obstacles, the initiative encapsulated in the Cybersecurity Act stands out.  This initiative aims to harmonize the different security certifications allocated to cloud providers.

A new certification process also represents an opportunity to establish new, common requirements based on international standards and collaboratively defined by the public and private sectors.

“This harmonization process represents an opportunity to lead the way toward a model where different international certifications can be mutually recognized and can be reused in different countries,” Víctor Espinosa, BBVA's Chief Cloud Officer pointed out.


Víctor Espinosa, Chief Cloud Officer at BBVA, during his intervention at the event.

In order for this standardization to take place, it is essential that collaboration between private industry and public institutions continues to forge ahead, eventually translating into European regulation. It is precisely the DSM Cloud Stakeholders, those individuals meeting at BBVA's headquarters this week, who epitomize this call to work jointly with the goal of making the single digital market more of a reality, one that inspires greater trust.

"At BBVA we believe that public-private dialog should steer regulations, based on already existing internationally recognized principles and standards –instead of being too prescriptive– in order to ensure they don't become obsolete too quickly.” stated Eduardo Arbizu, Global Head of Supervisors, Regulation, & Compliance who will bring the event to a close this afternoon.

This session –the sixth plenary session of the DMS Stakeholders– will continue with closed sessions tomorrow; the working group will continue its activity over the course of the year as it strives to establish a European single digital market that promotes competitiveness and innovation in Europe.