The European Parliament's Internal Affairs and Justice Committee has today approved the mandate of the European Parliament to negotiate with the Council on the ePrivacy Regulation on the protection of communications data. The mandate, approved by the majority of MEPs, calls for high standards of privacy, confidentiality and security in electronic communications across the EU, including SMS, telephone and services such as WhatsApp and Skype.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, the European Parliament's rapporteur for the basic data protection regulation and spokesman on domestic and judicial affairs for the Greens/EFA group, welcomes the focus on consumer protection:
"The European Parliament has placed a welcome focus on keeping consumer protection high. We need to ensure high standards of protection of sensitive communications data and a level playing field for all communications providers in the EU market.
"With few exceptions, internet companies and communication providers should only be able to use the data of users with their consent*. Users must be able to trust that their surfing and communication behaviour will not be evaluated or passed on.
"Despite major concessions, some conservative MEPs refused to compromise, prioritising the profits of large internet companies over fundamental rights to data protection and privacy.
"Consumers want strong data protection for their communications. Many European tech firms have already realised that they can be ahead of Silicon Valley in the future if they put a strong focus on confidentiality and data protection rules. This makes it all the more important that the new ePrivacy Regulation finally provides them with a level playing field and a genuine EU-wide digital single market."
The President of the European Parliament is expected to announce the position of the Committee on Internal Affairs and Justice at the plenary session from 23 to 26 October 2017, thus giving the mandate for negotiations between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission ("trilogue"). Once the Council has also presented its position, negotiations can begin.
*Exceptions only apply to statistical measurements of user behaviour and to ensure IT security by the communication providers.