OPP Meeting Summary: EP IMCO Committee – Respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications (ePrivacy Regulation) (4 September 2017)

A summary of the Committee’s consideration of amendments is now available.

EP IMCO Committee – 4 September 2017
11. Respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications)
– Consideration of amendments
– View related documents and the next stage in the Policy Pipeline

Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE) spoke on the behalf the Rapporteur Eva Maydell (EPP, BG) 

  • there was no doubt that respect for private life and the protection of personal data was necessary in the increasingly digitised day-to-day life;
  • during stakeholder meetings, there had been one issue which everyone could agree on: the need for consumer centric regulation;
  • the “guiding star” of the regulation needed to be ensuring that consumers were not overwhelmed with notices and requests for consent;
  • businesses should not have their hands tied behind their backs to ensure privacy. Constructive collaboration was a must in order to ensure that a balance could be found;
  • according to the key competences of the Committee, the opinion should provide for a good market and business environment and for the well-being of the consumers;
  • there were 530 amendments in total, which was the highest number among the Committees working on the file;
  • during the consideration of the draft opinion, the Rapporteur had agreed with protecting the privacy of children online. She was happy that amendments had been tabled in this direction;
  • regarding the consistency with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), she believed that the Committee members had taken on board her draft opinion and tabled further amendments to ensure that the provisions did not overlap or increase ambiguity;
  • there were clear differences on some issues between the groups. There were different approaches to definitions and the exclusions of Articles 6 and 8, particularly on the legitimate interests as grounds for processing data;
  • the political groups were favourable to pseudonymisation, minimisation and encryption of data. The Rapporteur believed that there was a majority on some issues but further work would be required on others to find a common ground.

Shadow Rapporteurs

Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK)

  • she was glad that work had been done on compromise amendments and that there was a possibility to reach an agreement in the Committee;
  • she stressed that the wishes of her group were not present in the compromise amendments. The scope of consent should not be reduced;
  • it was important to protect minors online and she was happy that the Rapporteur agreed;
  • her group wanted a targeted approach to ePrivacy to ensure that consumers were protected. If the discussions went in this direction, her group would be willing to compromise on some important issues;
  • she concluded that the negotiations would be difficult.

Dan Dalton (ECR, UK)

  • his starting point on the proposal was to examine “exactly what problem it was trying to fix”. He stated that he was struggling because the GDPR already covered large parts of it;
  • beyond addressing the protection of confidentiality in Article 5, much of the proposal would complicate the existing measures in the GDPR which would cause a lot of problems for businesses. He was glad that this problem was addressed in the amendments and by the Rapporteur;
  • a suitable balance needed to be found between privacy and security for consumers, and a functioning digital economy that offered a wide range of paid and free services;
  • his view was that the ePrivacy proposal was not necessary at the moment, and the implementation of the GDPR needed to be examined first. He accepted that this would not be the case as there was “a concrete proposal on the table” that needed to be delivered;
  • his amendments tried to bring the proposal in line with the GDPR and expand on the number of grounds for processing in order to address ‘consent fatigue’, as well as provide continuity between the consumers and the services they use;
  • he had also tabled amendments on the timeline because it was important to get a realistic implementation timeline;
  • the regulation needed to be technologically natural. The digital economy was constantly changing and it could not be regulated through restrictive technological solutions;
  • he stressed that the business model of the Internet was ad-based. It made paid platforms much cheaper than they would otherwise be and it allowed free platforms to exist. The Commission was fundamentally attacking paid platforms, and if substantial changes were not made, there would be an increase in the cost of digital services;
  • the Rapporteur’s opinion was a good basis for a strong IMCO position on protecting consumers.

Matthijs van Miltenburg (ALDE, NL) spoke on the behalf of Kaja Kallas (ALDE, EE)

  • it was important to protect the confidentiality of communications and allow companies to innovate at the same time;
  • if users lost their trust because of misuse of their data, the damage caused would be more severe than from regulating it in the first place;
  • her amendments provided more room for innovation, but she also broadly supported the proposal from the Commission;
  • making the proposal more technologically-neutral was also crucial. The focus on browsers was too big, because consumers were increasingly moving to applications and connected devices;
  • regarding consent and privacy settings, she believed companies needed to be provided incentives for collaborating on practical solutions. She did not believe that the deletion of Articles 9 and 10 was necessary;
  • she believed that privacy settings should provide options, depending on what kind of data the user was willing to share;
  • the scope of Article 11 on the possibilities for Member States to access communications was too broad. There was no reason why the Commission should extend the scope of the ePrivacy Directive, especially when the aim of the proposal was to consider the private lives of individuals.

Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • he stated that there was still a lot of work to be done in order for the compromise amendments to truly be compromises. However, there were a lot of possibilities for improvement;
  • he believed that the proposal was not clarifying the GDPR and the EECC, but complicating it;
  • ePrivacy was a separate proposal because it also guaranteed the fundamental right to confidentiality of communications, and the integrity of IT systems. It was not only about personal data, but also about end-devices;
  • communications metadata was extremely sensitive;
  • the Rapporteur was suggesting the use of communications content without consent for advertising. This would not build trust, but diminish it as it currently existed in the Member States;
  • the possibility of service providers to indefinitely store data was unacceptable.

Interventions from other Members followed

Dita Charanzova (ALDE, CZ)

  • a balance between personal privacy and availability of data was crucial. The Internet needed to function as an open source of information and services. She believed that many amendments went against this balance;
  • the Regulation needed to be in line with the GDPR and she shared the concerns of Dan Dalton (ECR, UK), as businesses were struggling with the implementation of the GDPR;
  • through the amendments, her group was trying to exclude machine-to-machine communications while maintaining the right to end-encryption and she hoped that this could be reflected in the compromise amendments.

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SE)

  • she supported the Rapporteur, but also the very serious concerns raised by the other members about the proposal. She questioned the added value of it;
  • the GDPR had created a lot of confusion in the business communities in the EU. They were demanding more guidance and support in interpreting it;
  • she called the rules “out of touch with the reality” of the needs of the single market;
  • she had also tabled amendments on the issue of the timeline of the proposal. It was a “nice idea” to implement it at the same time as the GDPR but it would not give enough time for companies to adjust to them;
  • she was also very concerned about cookies because it was an essential tool for marketing. She stressed the importance of net neutrality for cookies, otherwise technological developments could be blocked. She did not want European companies totally dependent on Google for marketing;
  • stopping the processing of metadata was also problematic, as it was used for the development of new services;
  • regarding the terminal equipment, she stated that the confidentiality of the equipment also needed to be ensured;
  • she thanked Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK) for stressing the importance of protecting minors and she hoped that there could be cooperation between the political groups on this issue.

representative from the European Commission made the following remarks

  • there were a number of good proposals in the amendments, e.g. the harmonisation of implementation across the EU and the extension of the scope to over-the-top (OTT) services;
  • the scope of the proposal was to ensure the confidentiality of communications. Data protection was covered by the GDPR, and she stressed that mobile devices and the Internet of Things were addressed by the existing Directive;
  • the basis of the proposal was consent. Consumers needed to embrace the data economy and trust the way they shared their data. This would also lead to new business models on how data was managed;
  • the Commission was looking forward to cooperation with the European Parliament, and it was available for further clarifications.

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SE) 

  • the vote would take place on 28 September 2017, followed by a LIBE Committee vote in October.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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