LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – PRIVACY & SECURITY: Industry group the GSMA renewed its call for a level playing field for mobile operators amid implementation of the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In a keynote here, GSMA director general Mats Granryd (pictured) explained GDPR adds another layer of regulation to the list of requirements operators must meet, noting operators in Europe must continue to comply with the requirements of the e-privacy directive.

“Consumers should rightfully celebrate the new protections the GDPR brings them,” Granryd said, explaining the GSMA is not against the latest regulation. GDPR “strikes a balance between enabling industry to flourish and protecting the rights of individuals,” he noted, reiterating a stance outlined by the association last week.

However, it also risks hindering innovation from the mobile industry by failing to resolve “the current regulatory imbalance between the telecommunications industry and other players in the digital world.”

“Data privacy regulation is essential, but we must also ensure consistency and fair competition,” Granryd argued.

There is much to be gained for consumers by ensuring such balance. The GSMA head said greater compatibility between various data privacy laws will speed the shift to a “world where countries allow personal data to flow relatively freely between them.” Easing the flow of information will enable consumers to benefit from the full potential offered by next-generation technologies including 5G, the IoT, artificial intelligence and big data, he said.

Granryd painted a picture of the real-world benefits such technologies could ultimately offer, enabling holographic visits to relatives, or putting people at the centre of expeditions and key events around the world. Big data can be used to address issues including “epidemics or environmental pollution”, while industry stands to benefit from real-time access to data on “practically all aspects of an operation or a manufacturing flow.”

However, “big data can also be used in negative ways, such as interfering in democratic processes,” Granryd warned, adding the recent high profile Cambridge Analytica incident highlights the need to protect data at a global, rather than just regional, level.

The director general also unveiled the association’s latest contribution to global security efforts. Named Warning, Advice and Reporting Point (WARP), the scheme “will be the official point of coordination for the mobile industry to provide critical support around security challenges”, based on the input of operators, vendors and security experts.

“WARP collects and disseminates important information and advice on security incidents within the mobile community,” enabling it to take whatever action is necessary.

“The mobile industry has build its reputation on the foundation of trust that we keep communications and personal data secure and confidential,” Granryd explained.