How cross-sector regulation creates challenges for the IT business user

Danielle Jacobs Blog

Few of us would argue with the need for data protection laws to safeguard consumers and individuals, but industry convergence, digitalisation and disruption from new technologies and players makes the implementation of such laws more difficult than ever. In this complex, interlinked regulatory environment, it is important not to forget how the regulations impact organisations that use IT.

I’m not speaking here about companies and consultants that provide IT services, but rather every type of company that relies on IT for their operations: whether they produce and provide food, components, energy, services… And they tell us that data protection and security are priority topics.

Beltug represents the voice of these business users in Belgium, and internationally through our connections with INTUG and They bring us their concerns directly – and the current regulatory situation is creating complexity and uncertainty for them. New challenges in privacy, cybersecurity and data protection are requiring regulators to reach into domains beyond their traditional competencies.

I want to highlight three elements that are complicating the landscape for business users of IT:

  • Lack of international harmonisation
  • Overlaps between regulators’ efforts
  • Dominance

Harmonisation: many companies today operate in more than one country, and thus face multiple regulatory regimes. Even with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), rules vary by country. But each company has the responsibility to comply with the different requirements.

Overlaps:  within one country, multiple regulators can come up with different implementations on overlapping topics. For example, in Europe, the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive and General Data Protection Regulation both require companies to report security and data breaches, but each has different reporting forms, deadlines, and so on. There is a risk therefore that we don’t arrive at the most efficient implementation.

Dominance: for years, Beltug has been calling for healthy competition in the telecoms business market. But we are now seeing serious changes in the market, with very dominant players. This increases the risk of vendor lock-in and raises barriers to entry for smaller companies.

At the same time, technology continues to evolve faster than legislation, which stifles innovation and the adoption of promising technologies, such as blockchain. Companies face major ambiguity on essential questions: who owns what data? Who may commercialise data? And how can we ensure data is well-protected?

These are only a few examples of why it is important to consider the perspective of the companies that will have to implement data protection regulations, while the latter are being drafted. Legislation needs to protect consumers’ rights, but also support and uplift the businesses that comprise our economies. I look forward to exploring the options in the international panel on Regulating the future: safe, inclusive, connected at ITU Telecom World 2019 in Budapest.

About the Author


Danielle Jacobs

Danielle Jacobs is CEO of Beltug, the largest Belgian association of digital technology leaders from businesses and public institutions, with more than 1700 members. Under her leadership, Beltug has built on the priorities of these ICT managers to achieve a number of successes, including developing a market study on the Belgian business ICT market, acting as an interlocutor for businesses on software license issues, and lobbying with public entities at the Belgian and European levels to clarify key issues including indoor coverage for mobile communication, data protection (GDPR), e-trust services, 5G and more. Danielle is also President of the Board of INTUG, the international association of business users of electronic communications, of which Beltug is a member. Both Intug and Beltug want to bring down the barriers that companies and public institutions face when developing their digital strategy. Danielle is founding member of, representing the IT demand side in Europe. She has been named a Fellow of the Free University of Brussels, and has received considerable recognition for her efforts, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CIO Leadership Summit in 2016. She was named one of Global Telecoms Business’s Top 50 Woman to Watch 2016, and was elected IT person of the year by Computable Belgium 2018

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