Businesses are not yet up to speed on the proposed EU data reforms. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK has released a report that showcases some real uneasiness over the forthcoming legislation.

Guidelines set out by the EU could have even more of an impact than last year’s E-Privacy Directive roll-out. The reforms are set to affect any business that uses data for marketing its products and services, which sums up a large portion of the performance marketing industry.

Unsurprisingly, 40% of companies fail to fully grasp any of the 10 main provisions being proposed. A higher standard for obtaining consent and strengthened rights for data subjects are particularly key to performance marketers.

There is a provision concerning the international transfer of personal data too, which could be relevant to publishers straddling a number of regions. In some instances this may require approval by the consumer if it’s outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Cost of Data Protection

Meeting the data protection responsibilities will likely cost companies. Indeed, 82% of the survey’s respondents struggled to quantify even their current spending on data protection. It’s particularly worrying given the new reforms could come into play by the end of the year.

The average estimated cost of data protection was slightly skewed in the report. While 87% were unable to predict how hard their finances would be hit by the draft proposals, a small number of large organisations were able to put a figure on data protection expenditure.

Some of the figures being bandied about are nothing to be sniffed at. The Ministry of Justice estimates a net cost of £80-320 million per year in the UK, but the European Commission believes this will be offset by savings for economic operators of €2.3 billion.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham advised companies involved with personal data to act now. “Businesses and other stakeholders need to constructively engage with the debate about burdens and the importance of privacy rights, while the process can still be influenced,” he said.