I was invited to attend a debate hosted by FEDMA on the future of ePrivacy and held at the European Parliament in Brussels on February 8th.
The event, ePrivacy Directive: combining modern marketing and privacy was hosted by Member of the European Parliament, Axel Voss.
Claire Bury, Deputy Director General of DG CNECT, at the European Commission set up the session by outlining the EU’s intention to align the ePrivacy directive with the recently adopted GDPR ( General Data Protection Regulation). ( Learn more about GDPR on the DMA’s website )
For those of you not in the know..this is Directive is more commonly known as the Cookie Directive.
In the first panel, ePrivacy: the right balance between business & buyers, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Deputy European Data Protection Supervisor and Harald Lemke, Senior Vice President, Special Representative for e-government and e-justice at Deutsche Post DHL shared their views on what should be the focus of the ePrivacy Regulation proposal. Although everyone agreed that yes, the confidentiality aspects of the ePrivacy Directive should be respected there was a disagreement on its impact on the growing digital and data economy in Europe. Mr Lemke, obviously representing the commercial world’s interests warned against implementing the Directive without first studying its impact on this economy. Bizarely Mr. Wiewiórowski claimed he had not seen any studies that flagged any impact on the industry (I’m not aware of any that having been commissioned)
Mr. Wiewiórowski also stressed his optimism that the Directive could be introduced in time to mirror the introduction of GDPR in May 2018. This not created a wave of sceptical smiles through the audience but also prompted Mr Lemke to flag that his legal team were so busy with GDPR that he doubted that they could then also cope with ePrivacy
Some mention was made of research carried out by the Norwegian national data protection authority, which found that consumers prefer random versus targeted advertising when given the choice. Although I’m not sure how much weight this should carry considering the maturity of the data and direct marketing in Norway.
Diana Jannsen from the Dutch DMA, presented some highlights from their recent study What consumers think about data. Interestingly one highlight is that 75% of consumers are willing to share data, but 89% of them state that business currently benefits most. The study is available to download in English here
In the second panel ,Judicael Phan, Senior Counsel at Criteo presented the different technical tools that already exist on the market to provide users with ways to express their preferences and in fact made a very strong case for how being much more transparent about the use of data can provide a business advantage
What’s the difference between a Directive and a Regulation? A regulation means that each of the member states in the EU must adhere to the exact same laws and ways of implementing them. Whereas each country in the EU can implement whatever version of a directive works best for their individual markets – usually a reflection of the maturity of that market
The annoying banner pop-ups that appear on any website we visit, asking for consent to collect cookies? That was the product of the last (and existing) EU cookie directive update. The new Directive actually drops these banners – as they are annoying – but actually then essentially insists that anyone who wants to drop cookies onto a device will need to go through more hoops to collect permission. More banners anyone?
And it’s not just websites – messaging apps also get roped into the new legislation! This Guardian article gives you a flavour
As mentioned above, the EU aim to get this place alongside GDPR in May 2018