Industry on alert as EU reviews online privacy laws

EU buildingAs the EU finally rubber-stamps the General Data Protection Regulation this week, marketers are now facing a fresh threat from Brussels, amid plans to tighten up legislation covering digital marketing.
The review of the ePrivacy Directive – which also includes the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) – will cover all online and mobile marketing, SMS, email and telemarketing activity.
In its current form, PECR is already proving a major headache for marketers, and breaches of the laws represent the lion’s share of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office  workload.
The Commission said the review is one of the key initiatives aimed at reinforcing trust and security in digital services in the EU with a focus on ensuring a high level of protection for consumers and a level playing field for all market players.
The Commission has launched a consultation on the current text of the ePrivacy Directive, as well as possible changes to the existing legal framework to make sure it is up to date with the new challenges of the digital area.
The Directive was last updated in 2009 to provide clearer rules on customers’ rights to privacy. In particular, new requirements were introduced such as on “cookies” and on personal data breaches.
Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is tasked with leading the reform, and a number of areas are already under consideration, including ensuring consistency of ePrivacy rules with the GDPR; enhancing security and confidentiality of communications; and addressing inconsistent enforcement and fragmentation at national level.
Some are also calling for Internet browsers to have do-not-track technology pre-installed and default switched on, in order to safeguard user data, rather than forcing users to know to opt out of being tracked.
The Commission will use the feedback from the consultation to prepare a new legislative proposal on ePrivacy, which is expected by the end of 2016.

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