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Bone up on fresh EU privacy law - or end up in the clink, IT biz warned

Resellers no longer just flogging boxes - now they must offer legal advice

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McAfee Channel Summit Technology resellers, distributors and service providers need to be ready for the freshly proposed European Data Protection law, IDC has said.

The analyst's research director of European security software Kevin Bailey said that end users were already preparing for the new rules of the incoming regulation, but the technology channel needs to get its act together too.

"The channel should be fully conversant on what the EU data protection regulation is about," he said at the McAfee EMEA Channel Summit. "They have to understand it because in the SMB space, the people there want to focus on their business not on other issues like this.

"[And] when the EU data protection regulation comes in - you will get fined, you will get put into jail if you breach it."

The draft bill, which was put forward by European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding in January last year, proposes a single law on how to handle data across the member states, rather than the patchwork national laws that cover the region now.

As a report from consultancy firm London Economics last month showed, many British businesses, particularly the smaller ones, don't really understand the main provisions of the law. Those businesses will appreciate channel partners that can help advise them on whether the products and services they're using are compliant with the new directives.

Bailey also said that resellers and distributors would need to think about more than just shifting products in the future.

"I think the role of any route to market is more consultative going forward and less about products," he said.

"The days are gone of moving boxes, it's about having an opinion you take to your customer and through that offering a service.

"I think the channel will move more to being consultative sales… they will listen before they talk, especially in the reseller model. The distributors have a bigger challenge. A few of them are making the change [but] some don't get it and are missing a trick," he added. ®

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