HomeInsightsENPA publishes cross-industry open letter on e-Privacy: “Europe Cannot Afford to Miss the Data Revolution”

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The letter, which is signed by various European publishing, advertising and media organisations which are members of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Organisation, states that the data economy is “a pillar of future growth, job creation and social progress.” Its value will continue to grow and consumers will enjoy innovative products and services and benefit from strong guarantees for their rights and privacy, the letter states.

In 2016, the letter continues, the European Commission introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into force on 25th May 2018, in order to both enhance rights for individuals and simplify the regulatory environment to improve business opportunities.

The signatories to the letter consider that confidentiality of electronic communications and personal data protection are, in essence, unquestionable. The letter expresses their wish for these essential principles to be provided by “a balanced framework, benefitting both European citizens and digital players, in a dynamic and innovative ecosystem.

However, the proposed e-Privacy Regulation, recently voted in the European Parliament and currently being discussed amongst Member States, will achieve none of these objectives, the letter continues. The signatories say they are concerned that current proposals “would not offer efficient protection for consumers; would reinforce already dominant players in the data economy; would threaten the development of European startups and innovative companies, online advertising, telecom operators, and other sectors alike; and would undermine the essential role of press and media in European democratic life.”

According to the signatories, as drafted, the current draft e-Privacy Regulation:

  • provides global players with preferential treatment for collecting and processing data, notably location data. Data gathered through devices and operating systems would therefore be considered as less sensitive than those linked to European communications networks, without any justification and in disregard of efficient and consistent consumer protection;
  • denies the opportunity, granted by the GDPR, to process data with appropriate guarantees, such as legitimate interest, further compatible processing and statistical purpose;
  • does not take into account the complex value chain of digital advertising and its fast evolution;
  • officially devolves the management of “cookie” trackers to browsing interfaces, depriving internet users of making conscious decisions as to which sites they are in connection with. This measure creates a major disadvantage for emerging companies, reducing their ability to collect advertising revenue with targeted and relevant messages. It reduces the possible investment in quality journalism across Europe, preventing press publishers and media from building a trustful relationship with their readers and marketing their editorial content;
  • locks European tech businesses and start-ups into a local market; and
  • targets specific technologies, such as Machine-to-Machine, without demonstrating the need for it, when regulation should be as technology-neutral as possible.

Accordingly, the signatories call on European and national policy-makers to review the draft e-Privacy regulation. “The European Digital Single Market deserves better than a regulation with massive and uncontrolled side effects. It needs clear and simple definitions, separating personal and non-personal data, with consistent and horizontal implementation, in order to guarantee the protection of individuals and the development of the European digital ecosystem.” To read the letter in full, click here.