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ENDitorial: Correction / Clarification regarding iCOMP

5 June, 2013

In the previous EDRi-gram, we published an “ENDitorial” entitled “European Privacy Association – good, bad or simply misunderstood”. In that article, we made reference to the ICOMP organisation and its transparency.

Subsequent to the publication of that article, Burson-Marsteller asked for some clarifications to be made. The clarifications (copied verbatim from an e-mail to us) that were requested as follows:

a. "Contrary to what you indicate, ICOMP does not send emails to Members of the Parliament directly. Instead, emails to EU officials are always sent from a Burson-Marsteller account for transparency reasons"

EDRi comment: See below a link to an e-mail sent from ICOMP/Burson-Marsteller to a staff member at the European Parliament.

b. "Burson-Marsteller works on behalf of ICOMP. As is customary, BM’s emails to EU officials are fully transparent, indicating in our signature that we represent ICOMP and also providing a link to Burson-Marsteller’s entry on the EU transparency register"

EDRi comment: As the example e-mail is advertising an event of ICOMP, it would seem to make far more sense to provide a link to ICOMP's transparency register entry. A link to the Burson-Marsteller's transparency register entry is not enlightening.

c, "Burson-Marsteller’s entry on the EU transparency register has always indicated that ICOMP is a client (see link here 9155503593-86 under the category 'Clients generating a turnover of 250000 € - 300000 €.': INITIATIVE FOR A COMPETITIVE ONLINE MARKETPLACE”

EDRi comment: This is true. It is also true that this does not provide any transparency about iCOMP, beyond the fees that it pays to Burson-Marseller.

d. "ICOMP is also on the transparency register since 2009: "

EDRi comment: This is true. However, the failings of that entry led the transparency register secretariat to make the following observations in an e-mail to an MEP:

We would like to inform you that following the alert you made on 5th September relative to the organisation ICOMP, we have performed a quality check of the information provided in their registration (see link below or ID number 94410281407-45 in the Transparency Register).

ICOMP did not originally provide a full list of their member organisations/ companies, and did not provide a link to their website where this information is outlined.

They have now updated their page, in order to include this information. In view of the following facts we consider the alert to have been dealt with by our services, and the case to be closed.

e."The EU Commission officials in charge of the transparency register have never brought to Burson-Marsteller’s attention or to ICOMP’s attention that a complaint has been made (that would be the procedure in case of a complaint) and consequently nothing in these profiles has been corrected to our knowledge on that basis."

EDRi comment: After checking with Burson-Marsteller, it turns out that they did receive a “quality check” notice from the transparency register secretariat. Burson-Marsteller tells us that the transparency register secretariat omitted to mention that this was the result of a complaint.

ICOMP website

Example email

ENDitorial: European Privacy Association - good, bad or simply misunderstood? (22.05.2013)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)



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