Industry reprieve as ePrivacy shake-up hits the buffers

EU building 2 (2)Companies which are bracing themselves for the new ePrivacy Regulation have been given some respite following reports that the European Commission is on a go-slow over the shake-up, with predictions that the new laws governing electronic marketing are unlikely to see the light of day until 2020 at the earliest.
With many companies still on their “journey” to GDPR compliance – at the last count only 20% of businesses believed they were up to speed – the prospect of the new ePrivacy laws has been filling them with dread.
They will replace the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003 and and cover telemarketing, email, text and fax marketing, cookies, traffic and location data, line identification, and directory listings.
The new Austrian Presidency of the EU Council had made the regulation a priority in their agenda, however, progress has been slow and there will be no update until the end of the year.
The legislation was originally scheduled in to be passed alongside GDPR, but the discussions between the EU Parliament, Council and Commission – needed to achieve an agreed implementation date – will likely take place after the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. This would push it back to at least 2020.
For European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli, who insists the regulation is pivotal for data protection as well as the smooth running of GDPR, agreement can not come soon enough. He recently said: “I am looking forward to the time when companies are far from indifferent to their consumers as many of the large tech companies are now, but rather are cautious to keep the goodwill of the public on their side.
“A time when GDPR will be applied not simply in order to ensure compliance with the law but also with the hope of fostering public goodwill instead of finding loopholes in an unduly complex text.”
However, much like GDPR – which took seven years to be passed – there is fierce opposition to the changes.
Speaking about the prospect that the regulation will be passed after the UK leaves the EU in March next year, DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri said: “The free flow of data allows businesses across the EU and UK to perform a great many functions. It is imperative that we meet the requirements of the EU to maintain such ties.
“Nonetheless, while we will always fight for consumer rights and greater customer focus, we also want to ensure that UK businesses can operate without hindrance. ePrivacy in its current form throws up a number of concerns. Whether it is necessary to implement or not, the DMA will work with Fedma to ensure it works well for businesses and consumers.”

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