The Regional Centre of the International Federation of Translators in Europe (FIT Europe) and the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies (EUATC) have agreed to join forces to produce guidance on GDPR and data in translation.

The move follows a July ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that overturned previous protection provided by the EU-US Data Protection Shield. The impact is that now anyone in the translation supply chain could be exposing themselves to legal challenge if they do not consider the new ruling when transferring data to clients in the US.

The issue though is broader. Both FIT Europe and EUATC had recognised the dangers which the GDPR raises for the language professions and had started work on developing guidance independently. However, it was soon realised that since the whole of the language industry eco-system is impacted , the combined forces of the representative organisations for the European freelance community and the company sector are needed to come together to tackle the proposed guidance holistically on behalf of their members.

Commenting, Annette Schiller, Chairperson of FIT Europe said: “The latest ruling by the CJEU creates a new layer of complexity in the already complex GDPR landscape, both for the freelance community and company sector. Given that both organisations had been working in their own silos, this latest development dictated that we simply had to emerge and start working together on this for the good of all involved and the future of the profession.”

Concurring, Heike Leinhäuser, EUATC President said: “The threats of legal challenge created by the removal of the EU-US data protection shield will make no differentiation whether those falling foul of GDPR laws is a language company or an individual linguist. We are all equally vulnerable now and it was imperative that our organisations were in lockstep to develop new GDPR guidance for the translation sector.

“I welcome this new era of close collaboration between our organisations and feel certain that there will be other issues in the future confronting the sector that will benefit from a joint approach when addressing them.”

The EUATC had previously agreed to a funding application from its UK member, the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) to develop guidance with the work being led by Raisa McNab, the ATC’s Chief Executive Officer. She pointed out that: “Official interpretation of the GDPR varies from country to country, which is making the production of definitive guidance impossible at this stage. So in discussion with FIT Europe colleagues, we think that a more realistic approach is likely to be the production of a risk-based management approach to tackling the new GDPR reality. This could be amended later and made more specific once official guidance from national data protections or the European Data Protection Board is available.” Raisa will now be working closely with John O’Shea from FIT Europe and Stefanie Bogaerts from LST and FreeLing Foundation, which had already partnered with FIT Europe to develop common European GDPR guidelines.

FIT Europe Board member John O’Shea concluded: “The boards of both the EUATC and FIT Europe working with common purpose looks set to be the ‘new normal’ and can only bode well for the wellbeing of language industry as a whole. I am encouraged by the healthy openness of the working relationship which has quickly emerged.”

Leave a Reply