Online privacy: how Parliament wants to increase protection 


Find out more about new internet privacy rules the EU is working on to help people control the data they create while browsing the internet or communicating with friends.

The EU is working on new rules to help people take control over how their data is used. On 19 October Parliament's civil liberties committee adopted proposals such as increasing people's right to use encrypted services and preventing internet users from not being able to access a website if they refuse to accept cookies.

Our online activities generate a lot of data that can be used and abused for commercial and other reasons. One example of a well-known tracking technology is cookies.

EU rules set the conditions under which this data may be collected and processed. One core principle is that users have to give consent for their data being used. For example, if you visit a new webpage, you will be asked if you agree to cookies being used.

Existing EU legislation for protecting privacy in electronic communications was drafted more than a decade ago, so an update is urgently needed. The new rules would cover new internet-based services such as instant messaging (WhatsApp), phone service over the internet (Skype) and web-based email (Gmail).

The legislation would not only apply to the content of communications but also to so-called metadata, which reveal the location, timing, duration and type of communication. The proposal would also toughen up requirements for the use of cookies and spam as well as be in line with new general data protection regulation that will enter into force on 25 May 2018.

MEPs are keen to ban practices such as cookie walls that prevent internet users from fully accessing a website if they do not agree to be tracked. They also want to make it easier for people to give or withdraw their consent, for instance by using browser settings instead of pop-up banners.

Members are also keen to boost people's right to use encrypted communication services by not allowing governments to impose any obligation on providers of such services that would weaken security and encryption of their networks and services.

MEPs are working to better protect people's privacy online © CC Flick/blogtrepreneur/