Online messaging and email giants face European Union privacy crackdown

Kari ReynoldsJan 12, 2017

But the new proposal aims to extend that to other services, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Gmail and WhatsApp.

Privacy advocates say the new ePrivacy regulation, which is an updated version of a 1995 directive that allowed for some differences in national law, complements a broad data protection overhaul that was rubberstamped previous year and will go into effect in 2018.

But the latest proposals can not become law until the bloc's 28 member states and the European Parliament agree to wave them through-leaving plenty of wiggle room for industry lobbying. Additionally, it aims to set a strategic approach to issues concerning the global transfer of personal data.

The web players will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers' conversations and ask for their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalized ads. Users would have control of their setting and easy ways to accept and refuse tracking cookies and identifiers in the event of privacy risks.

Users of electronic communications services would also obtain a new right to object to the processing of their electronic communications data, and could potentially win compensation from communication providers if they have "suffered material or non-material damage as a result of an infringement" of the new rules by those companies.

Lumping in communications apps with telecoms providers actually limits the amount of data WhatsApp, Facebook and others can share, and web companies operating in the European Union would have to guarantee that users' voice, text or email conversations are confidential. "They will ensure that the privacy of electronic communications is protected by up to date and effective rules, and that European institutions will apply the same high standards that we expect from our Member States".

"I want to ensure confidentiality of electronic communications and privacy", Andrus Ansip, EU vice president for the digital single market, said in an e-mailed statement.

A copy of the upcoming Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation leaked early in December, but only yesterday has the European Commission acknowledged its legitimacy.

What that means is that the ePrivacy regulation would now cover companies like Facebook and Google.

Clearly these revenue streams are important to such companies at the moment.

Online advertisers also warned that overly strict rules would undermine the ability of many websites to fund themselves and offer free services. They say the data they use cannot identify the user and is therefore low risk, making asking for consent every time too onerous. Changes will be made to the way "cookies" are used on websites, which are used by tech companies to track online behaviour in order to deliver targeted ads. He explained that those companies "operate in the background and sort of facilitate the buying and selling of advertising rather than the ones that the user directly engages with".

Related Articles:

« Previous article
Next article »

Popular Pages

VW pleads guilty to United States criminal charges, pays $4.3 bn in 'dieselgate'
The settlement requires the German automaker to cooperate with the Justice Department on its ongoing prosectors of the executives. On Monday, Oliver Schmidt was arraigned in a court in Miami following his arrest upon visiting the country.

Charleston Victim's Brother Calls Dylann Roof's Sentence a 'Hollow Victory'
As reported by MSNBC, Roof is the first person charged with hate crimes to get the federal death penalty. His remarks in open court marked the first time Roof himself was really heard by the US public.

Flu season officially in full swing, doctors warn
The strain of this flu season differs from the last: it is Influenza A H3N2 as opposed to the reportedly milder H1N1. If you haven't gotten your flu shot last fall, you may want to rethink that decision.

USA under Trump Series Brace for Trump vs Spy showdown
Even staying on in a private capacity will involve finding new digs, nannies, changing visa status and other logistical hassles. A former professional baseball player, he was appointed by Barack Obama and is a personal friend of the outgoing president.

Bengaluru: After New Year shame, woman in Burqa molested in broad daylight
According to a media report, women were not only molested and groped by a group of men but lewd remarks were also hurled at them. Security footage in the area showed a group of bystanders who witnessed the assault but made no effort to put a stop to it.

Vaccine Skeptic Says Trump Asked Him To Head Panel On 'Vaccine Safety'
The President-elect posted a tweet suggesting that children get many vaccines at the same time and end up developing autism. Childhood vaccines cause autism, he asserted at a debate in 2015 , echoing statements he had made in 2014 and 2012.

Amazon Chase Card Offers Cash Back For Prime Members
In order to avail the brand new card that was released this Wednesday, interested users need to sign up for Amazon Prime . According to Amazon , a purchase of $1,000 on Amazon .com would earn $50 that could be redeemed on future purchases.

Movie World rollercoaster malfunctions, stranding 20 visitors on the Gold Coast
Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure has announced that the ride would be demolished and a permanent memorial to the victims erected. Movie World is one of several theme parks on the Gold Coast.

Misbah's words of warning for Australia's spinners
During the talk, Chappel said that "somebody's got to give them ( Pakistan ) a kick up the bum". We're going to have to play some very good cricket if we want to compete over there.

Vast iceberg poised to crack off Antarctica
The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea. The Larsen C ice shelf is the most northern major ice shelf and the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica .