EU may force Internet giants to report major outages

Facebook, LinkedIn and Amazon may soon have to report major outages to European regulators.

Today, major systems or network outages are reported by the media, but Internet giants operating in Europe could soon be forced to report these to regulators, according to a draft European Commission proposal.

The proposal would put in place a framework for EU governments to collect data on almost any major cyber incident, so long as the impact was “severe”.

The EC’s vice president and Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes is expected to reveal details later this month, according to <i>TechWeek Europe</i>, which first reported the plan based on a draft of the proposal.

The proposal is separate to the EU’s planned data protection proposal, which if passed will force companies to report breaches involving personal information, but appears similar in intent to the EU’s 2009 electronic communications directive.

Under that directive Europe’s telecoms companies are required to report severe incidents, which could be caused by bad weather, malicious attackers or technical failures. Europe’s security agency ENISA compiled its first report from data received under that legislation last year, recording 51 major incidents in 2011. With more countries having transposed the law, ENISA expects that number to rise to 500, providing a wealth of data to analyse the stability of networks.

Internet companies in Europe have been lobbying against the proposal, according to the Financial Times.

Kroes’ cabinet officials told FT the proposal would require social networks, e-commerce companies and large online platforms to report server problems to local authorities.

That could mean Amazon’s next EC2 outage -- such as the 2011 outage after lightning struck its Dublin facility -- may have to be officially reported.

The proposal appears to be aimed at plugging reporting gaps that ENISA detailed in a report last year. In it, ENISA noted that LinkedIn’s 6.5 million password breach and RIM’s rolling outages in 2011 -- which had severe impacts on businesses -- would not clearly be in scope of data protection or electronic communications laws.

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