Tech and Telecom industry Companies release joint statement to repeal ePrivacy Directive

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New EU rules on privacy and electronic communications are to be proposed by the European Commission in 2017.  The Commission wants to update the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications (e-Privacy) Directive and the recommendations made to it last summer suggest that wide-ranging changes are likely, including to rules on the use of cookies, direct digital marketing and on the processing of location data.

However, a coalition of companies from Tech and Telecom industries are calling for the repeal of the e-Privacy regime.

The ePrivacy directive – more specifically Article 5(3) – requires prior informed consent for storage or for access to information stored on a user’s terminal equipment. In other words, you must ask users if they agree to most cookies and similar technologies (e.g. web beacons, Flash cookies, etc.) before the site starts to use them.

The GSMA today issued a joint industry statement “Empowering Trust and Innovation by repealing the E-Privacy Directive”.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sector.

The industry group is seeking as yet unspecified “appropriate legal instruments” rather than continuation of the wide-reaching ePrivacy Directive.

The full statement:

The tech and telecom industries call for the e-Privacy Directive to be repealed.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 coalition currently includes (in alphabetic order):

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • BT
  • BlackBerry
  • Dropbox
  • eBay
  • Facebook
  • Fastnet
  • Foursquare
  • Google
  • Huawei
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
  • Orange
  • Paypal
  • T-Mobile
  • TalkTalk
  • Telefonica
  • Three
  • Vodafone

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