Commission publishes the first results of the “ePrivacy” public consultation

Today the European Commission has published the preliminary findings of the public consultation on the review of the ePrivacy Directive. This legislation applies to electronic communications services and needs to be adapted to the new General data protection regulation which will enable people to better control their personal data. A large number of responses came from citizens (38,5%) and more than a quarter of responses came from Germany, followed by the UK and Belgium. According to the preliminary findings, 83% of the individuals and civil society organisations who took part in the consultation agreed that there was a clear added value in having specific privacy rules for the electronic communications sector to ensure the confidentiality of electronic communications. In addition, 76% of individuals and civil society respondents believe that the scope of the rules should be broadened to cover the so-called over-the-top service providers (OTT) when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. However, 76% of these groups also said that the ePrivacy Directive has not or has but to a limited extent achieved its objectives of ensuring full protection of privacy and confidentiality of communication. This was attributed to its scope being too limited, its rules leading to differences between Member States and too low compliance and enforcement. Industry and public authorities were more positive that the ePrivacy Directive has achieved its objectives; however 42% of industry respondents are against the scope of the rules being broadened to cover theOTT when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. The review of the ePrivacy Directive is one of the key initiatives proposed under the EU Digital Single Market strategy. The Commission has committed to reviewing the EU’s privacy rules for electronic communications in order to reinforce trust and security in digital services, to ensure a high level of protection for people and a level playing field for all market players. The proposals are expected later this year, meanwhile the Commission will analyse the replies of the public consultation and publish its conclusions in the autumn.