ePrivacy Regulation: update from the European Parliament

23 October 2017
LIBE adopts report on ePrivacy

On 19 October, the lead European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) adopted its report on ePrivacy and moved directly to inter-institutional negotiations with Member States and the Commission without having to pass through a Plenary vote.

The proposed ePrivacy Regulation includes rules governing direct marketing and online tracking, including cookies which enable the collection of browsing data that can be used for targeting online advertising. The report was narrowly adopted by 31 votes in favour, 24 against and one abstention. The final text of the report was supported by the centre-left coalition (S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE) while most centre-right parties (EPP and ECR) members opposed the adoption.

  • The report maintains the solution proposed initially by the Commission which would require users to consent to sharing their personal information by choosing privacy settings via browsers or other software
  • However, individual websites would be able to request consent on a case-by-case basis to override these privacy settings
  • The report specifies that the privacy settings must be easily accessible at all times, must offer granular settings options and shall present the information in a manner that gives the user the possibility for making an informed decision
  • The report also clarifies that companies can use third parties and agencies to carry out web audience measuring without asking for consent

Nevertheless, some proposals were adopted in the final text that risk affecting the advertising-based model of many online services:

  • A new provision prevents websites from denying users access if they refuse to share their information, “regardless of whether this service is remunerated or not”. Consent cannot be a mandatory requirement to access the service
  • Privacy settings embedded in browsers would be set by default to the most privacy friendly option

NEXT STEPS 

MEPs have until Tuesday (24.10) to gather the required support (76 MEPs) to challenge LIBE and push for a vote in Plenary later in the week. The vote will decide whether or not the file will be re-opened so that MEPs can table additional amendments in the November Plenary session (13-16 November).

ISBA is working with WFA to review next steps and will report back to members after a meeting of an ePrivacy task force meeting on Thursday 26 October.

For more information on the ePrivacy Regulation, please contact Tanya Joseph.

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