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ECR

Free online Services endangered by new ePrivacy rules

19 October 2017

Free online Services endangered by new ePrivacy rules

New online privacy proposals backed today by MEPs would stifle innovation and threaten the availability of free online services people currently take for granted. Conservative MEPs believe the eprivacy regulations fail to strike the right balance between respecting people’s right to privacy online and encouraging a wide range of services.

New online privacy proposals backed today by MEPs would stifle innovation and threaten the availability of free online services people currently take for granted.

Conservative MEPs believe the eprivacy regulations fail to strike the right balance between respecting people’s right to privacy online and encouraging a wide range of services.

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee today recommended that all users will have to opt into allowing service providers to access their personal data, replacing the existing system of opt outs.

Many businesses offer free online services because they can monetise the data they hold through advertising. If that information is not widely available, the business model which has driven much of the growth of the internet over the past 20 years will no longer be viable.

The proposals are also unlikely to address the privacy concerns which are the inspiration behind the proposal, as users will have to choose their cookie settings in the browser when they initially set up their device rather than the existing situation where they can set cookie settings for each website visited.

The new regulations would also overly restrict web audience measurement, making it difficult to calculate royalties due to artists or market sites on the basis of usage.

Conservatives voted against the report but it was pushed through the committee by an alliance of socialists and Greens.

Conservative Civil Liberties spokesman Dan Dalton MEP said: “Privacy is a priority but today’s vote gets the balance all wrong. It risks the services people enjoy online. More than that it risks the development of future services.

“Consumers regularly use free online services and apps and freely give their data. So long as their privacy and data is protected, which it is under both existing rules and the upcoming data protection laws, we should not remove the incentive for businesses to produce free content.

“Consumer choice should be at the heart of any new rules. Unfortunately these proposals would kill off many free internet services and apps that people currently take for granted and hand power to a few browser providers, power that they themselves do not want.”

Mr Dalton is urging the EU to assess the impact of the new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018, before developing any further legislation.

“Businesses are already implementing the most extensive reform of data protection rules in 20 years’” he said. “We should wait to see how that works, not rush ahead with this inflexible approach to eprivacy that would restrict innovation.

“A fundamental right to privacy is protected in the current privacy rules, and will continue to be in whatever new rules we agree, but this is about more than just privacy. This is about consumer choice, and consumer’s future rights in the digital age.”

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