Industry calls for the repeal of the e-Privacy Directive to "empower trust and innovation" 8.7.16

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After the approval of new EU rules on data protection in general and with regard to law enforcement agencies, the next step is the revision of the 2002 e-Privacy Directive. Civil society groups are hoping to see the existing legal framework strengthened, while industry has its own ideas - scrapping the rules altogether in the name of "empowering trust and innovation".


European Digital Rights (EDRi) note:

"The e-Privacy Directive contains specific rules on data protection in the area of telecommunication in public electronic networks. It is hugely important, as it is the only EU legislation that regulates confidentiality of communications. Unsurprisingly, after the huge lobby against the GDPR, parts of the telecoms and online industries are now hard at work, to completely destroy the e-Privacy Directive.

The purpose of the legislation is to “complement and particularise” matters covered by the general data protection legislation (formerly the 1995 Directive on Data Protection, the predecessor of the GDPR). Specifically, the ePrivacy Directive regulates aspects related to the right to confidentiality of communications and the right to freedom of expression. The importance of these fundamental rights (in addition to the right to data protection) in the increasingly interconnected environment of Big Data and the Internet of Things is obvious. Because of the impact that this norm has on EU citizens, EDRi advocates for the update of the ePD, to make it as future proof and effective as possible in light of the latest legal and technological developments."

The organisation makes a number of recommendations and an analysis to propose ways to strengthen the framework for the protection of personal data. See: e-Privacy Directive revision: An analysis from the civil society (EDRi, link)

Meanwhile, a host of industry bodies have joined forces to demand the exact opposite. Their full statement (link to pdf) is copied below:

Empowering trust and innovation by repealing the e-Privacy Directive

Brussels, 5 July 2016 – The tech and telecom industries call for the e-Privacy Directive to be repealed. We believe that simplifying and streamlining regulation will benefit consumers by ensuring they are provided with a simple, consistent and meaningful set of rules designed to protect their personal data.

At the same time, it will encourage innovation across the digital value chain and drive new growth and social opportunities. This is critical at a time when digital companies are striving to launch new innovative services and working to build a 5G Europe.

In this context, we believe that the review process of the e-Privacy Directive offers a unique opportunity to achieve a simple, clear and horizontal approach to digital regulation. Sector-specific rules on privacy are no longer able to address the challenges of the digital age.

For this reason, we believe that Europe should fully take stock of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which creates a comprehensive set of horizontal rules ensuring high levels of data protection.

During the review of the e-Privacy directive, we believe that the EU should:

    • Carefully evaluate the extent to which the e-Privacy Directive is still necessary and meaningful;
    • Eliminate any provisions that are overlapping with the GDPR;
    • If still considered necessary, transfer non-privacy related consumer protection provisions, to more appropriate legal instruments; the on-going review of consumer protection rules, and more specifically of the Telecoms Framework, provides opportunities for streamlining legislation;
    • Align the relative timing of the e-Privacy and Telecoms Framework reviews;
    • Make sure that the review of the e-Privacy Directive is fully aligned with the GDPR.

Such an approach would also be in line with the Digital Single Market Strategy and would help achieve further concrete steps in the context of the Commission¡¦s REFIT programme.

We believe that the above-mentioned steps would maximise the consistency of the rules, increase clarity for consumers and help Europe unlock new innovation opportunities across the digital value chain.

The following 12 associations have signed this statement:

Application Developers Alliance, Cable Europe, CCIA, COCIR, DIGITALEUROPE, ECTA, EDIMA, ETNO, EuroISPA, IAB Europe, GSMA and EPC.

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