A majority of MEPs confirmed the committee decision to enter into negotiations on the revision of EU privacy rules for electronic communications.

The decision was backed by 318 votes to 280, with 20 abstentions. This means that Parliament is ready to start the talks with member states on the new e-Privacy regulation as soon as member states have agreed on their own negotiation position.

Parliament’s mandate sets high standards of privacy, confidentiality and security in electronic communications across the EU.

A ban on “cookie walls”, which block access to a website if the person does not agree to his or her data being used by the site, is among Parliament’s priorities. Snooping on personal devices via cookies or software updates, or tracking people without their clear approval through public hotspots or WI-FI in shopping centres, should also be prohibited, say MEPs.

They also stress that data should only be used for the purpose of which consent has been given by the individual. So-called “meta-data”, which can give information about numbers called, websites visited, geographical location or the time and date a call was made and other sensitive data, should be treated as confidential and never passed on to third parties. Finally, “privacy by default” settings should become standard for all software used for electronic communications.

 

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Parliament’s lead MEP Marju Lauristin (S&D, ET) said "The European Parliament today made the right choice and stood firm against the industry lobby over control of individuals’ communications. It is a basic right of individuals to know how their information is used. Freedom from tracking is vital to democracy."

 

Quick facts

The President of the European Parliament announced on Monday 23 Oct. the decisions made by several committee’s to enter into interinstitutional negotiations, pursuant to Rule 69c, paragraph 1 in Parliament’s rules of procedure. If more than 76 MEPs object to a decision, a Plenary vote is added to the agenda of the session.

The current directive on privacy in the electronic communication sector was last updated in 2009. The proposal for a revision, presented by the Commission on 10 January 2017, replaces the directive with a regulation. It will apply to traditional communication tools such as SMS and telephone services, but also include recently introduced internet-enabled services such as WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger and Facebook. The revision will also bring the rules into line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will become applicable in May 2018.

EU e-privacy rules aim to ensure the fundamental right to privacy and protection of personal data as enshrined in the Treaties.