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EP Strengthens Privacy Rules in Electronic Communications

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has recently approved a draft proposal aimed at strengthening privacy rules for electronic communications across the European Union. Through these new set of improved rules, end-users can expect more privacy when browsing websites, installing new applications on their mobile phones and even with regards to providers of electronic communications networks and services.

The draft proposal updating the current ePrivacy rules aims to cover internet-based services as well as other services such as SMS and telecom providers based in the EU.

If the proposal is eventually approved by the Commission and national governments, users will have to grant operators and providers permission to allow cookies to be saved on their devices through website access. A major part of the proposal focuses on ads generated through web-browsing habits which are collected through ‘cookies’ placed on the user’s browser.

Cookies are placed on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc. and contain little bits of information including the user’s page history, location or even shopping habits. This assists advertising companies to deliver ads to the user based on the information gathered.

A major proposal in the draft is to have web browsers by default turn off online advertising based on browsing habits; this therefore means that cookies will be automatically disabled. Instead, users will have to grant permission in order for cookies to be saved, and if permission isn’t granted, websites and their content should still be accessible. Websites will thus be forbidden from preventing users from accessing their content if they do not consent to cookies, a measure that was criticised by online advertisers as forcing websites to offer content for free.

For more information on how these amendments can impact your business and data protection policies, please contact Dr Ian Gauci on igauci@gtgadvocates.com

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to impart advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.