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Posts Tagged ‘#EU’

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Privacy rules to create jobs, EU data chief says

October 26, 2017

EU lawmakers are gearing up to launch talks with members states on a bill that aims to keep online communications private.
On Thursday (26 October), the European Parliament will vote on whether to put forward an official position on the so-called e-privacy regulation.

Industry and centre-right MEPs argue that it will limit jobs and innovation by imposing too many restrictions.
But Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, says it will also create new jobs in the privacy sector.

“We may create an unbelievable amount of new professions, jobs, opportunities for European Union small and medium size enterprises,” he told this website, earlier this week.

Earlier this year, a study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers said the EU continues to lag behind the US in terms of top global companies, many of which are geared towards technology.

Buttarelli says while this may be the case, the EU should continue in its efforts to be a global leader in privacy and data protection regulation.

“We will remain a little bit handicapped internationally in terms of technological development,” he said.

But he notes that privacy and data regulation sectors also offers new opportunities for European-based business in areas like ‘privacy by design’.

Such professions and jobs, he says, have little prospect of materialising in the United States where big tech companies dominate and tend to drive policy debate.

He also argues for a uniform level of protection across all platform.

“Interoperability, interactivity and interplay are also relevant for rights,” he said.

War on ‘cookie walls’
The reform of the 2002 e-privacy directive has major implications for both businesses and citizens, ahead of the launch of the EU’s data protection regulation next May.

The general data protection regulation deals with personal data, while e-privacy sets out rules on keeping telecom firms from prying into online chats and tracking users without their consent.

The Council, representing member states, has yet to formulate its stand.

But businesses and industry appear largely opposed, arguing that the e-privacy reforms, as proposed by MEPs in the civil liberties committee (Libe), are too restrictive.

The Libe wants, among other things, a ban on ‘cookie walls’, which block access to a website if the user does not agree to his or her data being used by the same site.

It also wants to make it easier for people to give or withdraw their consent by using browser settings instead of pop-up banners.

Left-leaning MEPs argue that the draft proposal would ensure high standards of privacy, confidentiality and security in electronic communications.

Meanwhile, some NGOs say it does not go far enough in protecting rights.

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EU privacy proposal could dent Facebook, Gmail ad revenue

January 11, 2017

By Julia Fioretti | BRUSSELS
Online messaging services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail will face tougher rules on how they can track users under a proposal presented by the European Union executive on Tuesday which could hurt companies reliant on advertising.

The web companies would have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers’ conversations and get their consent before tracking them online to target them with personalized advertisements.

For example, email services such as Gmail and Hotmail will not be able to scan customers’ emails to serve them with targeted advertisements without getting their explicit agreement.

Most free online services rely on advertising to fund themselves.

Spending on online advertising in 2015 was 36.4 billion euros, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The proposal by the European Commission extends some rules that now apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as “Over-The-Top” (OTT) services, and seeks to close a perceived regulatory gap between the telecoms industry and mainly U.S. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

It would allow telecoms companies to use customer metadata, such as the duration and location of calls, as well as content to provide additional services and so make more money, although the telecoms lobby group ETNO said they remain more constrained than their tech competitors.

The proposal will also require web browsers to ask users upon installation whether they want to allow websites to place cookies on their browsers to deliver personalized advertisements.

A previous version of the proposal would have forced browsers to set the default settings as not allowing cookies which are the small files placed on people’s computers when they visit a website containing information about their browsing activity.

“It’s up to our people to say yes or no,” said Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president for the digital single market.

Online advertisers say such rules would undermine many websites’ ability to fund themselves and keep offering free services.

“It will particularly hit those companies that … find it most difficult to talk directly to end users and what I mean by that is tech companies that operate in the background and sort of facilitate the buying and selling of advertising rather than the ones that the user directly engages with,” said Yves Schwarzbart, head of policy and regulatory affairs at the IAB.

“There is no doubt that it is time for the entire ecosystem to become more transparent and fair to all of the stakeholders. Users want easy access to trustworthy sources of information while feeling safe with the data they share,” Elad Natanson said.

Companies falling foul of the new law will face fines of up to 4.0 percent of their global turnover, in line with a separate data protection law set to enter into force in 2018.

The proposal will need to be approved by the European Parliament and member states before becoming law.

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Facebook Plans for WhatsApp Stumble on EU Privacy Concerns

November 30, 2016

Facebook Inc.’s stalled plans to leverage WhatsApp’s user data are about to hit another regulatory bump in Europe.

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, who heads a panel of Europe’s privacy watchdogs, said Facebook will probably face “additional action” over using WhatsApp’s data for its own advertising purposes when the group of regulators meets next month. Facebook has stopped merging some of the messaging service’s data with its own, but not necessarily all of it, she said.

“Looking at the evidence we have, the companies have stopped merging data but possibly not for all WhatsApp services,” Falque-Pierrotin, who also heads France’s data privacy authority CNIL, said in an interview in Paris. “It’s probably a bit more complicated than that.”

Facebook already suspended its policy shift after European privacy regulators warned last month they had “serious concerns” about the sharing of WhatsApp user data for purposes that weren’t included in the terms of service and privacy policy when people signed up to the service. But Facebook’s response to the letter needs a much closer look, said Falque-Pierrotin.

The merging of WhatsApp’s data is the first step by Facebook toward monetizing the platform since the social network’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg bought the company for about $22 billion in 2014. The EU’s 28 privacy commissioners, who meet regularly as the so-called Article 29 Working Party, coordinated their actions against Facebook and in their October letter urged the Menlo Park, California-based technology giant to better explain its plans.

“We told them that such a merging of data is not necessarily welcomed,” said Falque-Pierrotin.

In a statement, Facebook said WhatsApp’s privacy policy and terms updates comply with the law, and explain clearly how the service works and choices regarding how personal data is used.

“The updates also comply with applicable law and guidelines issued by EU regulators,” said Facebook, adding that it hopes to continue conversations with European regulators and remains “open to working collaboratively to address their questions.”

Single Entry
Using WhatsApp’s data combined with its own is important to Facebook because it lets the company offer advertisers a single entry into its several platforms — in other words, improved efficiency, said EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. But it’s also an opening into new business opportunities, because cross-analyzing data gives advertisers ammunition to better target users on each platform, she said.
“There’s always the specter of regulation when it comes to targeted advertising, privacy is always lurking in the background as a serious concern,” Williamson said. “Anything that happens on WhatsApp could trickle into the rest of Facebook as it tries to put the data from all its services into one giant data warehouse.”

The companies’ August announcement also triggered renewed questions from the EU’s antitrust watchdog, who had cleared the takeover deal two years earlier.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has warned that personal data gathered by searches and online behavior helps pay for web services that people think of as free. Antitrust regulators might see problems if a company holds data that can’t be duplicated by anyone else.

Facebook’s recent suspension of cross-platform sharing of personal data throughout the EU “might be seen as a watershed moment” in European privacy law and regulation, said David Cantor, a Brussels-based lawyer at Telecommunications Law & Strategy. “This, however, is a provisional position, which ensued in reaction to multiple national objections and expressions of concern.”

Coordination

The case shows that “the only way to address these big companies” is to coordinate actions across Europe, Falque-Pierrotin said.

Since privacy regulators began collaborating in Europe, Falque-Pierrotin said she’s seen “a real change in the behavior of U.S. technology companies with the EU group and national data protection authorities.”

While European watchdogs’ fining powers remain minimal, in some cases even nonexistent, new EU-wide rules will take effect in 2018 that could boost sanctions by any of the bloc’s national regulators to as much as 4 percent of a company’s global annual sales. The rules have also killed once and for all the argument that European privacy laws don’t apply to U.S. companies, said Falque-Pierrotin.

“That argument is dead and the last word’s been said about how seriously these companies should take European privacy laws,” she said. “But this still needs patience. The stakes are extremely high for the companies and I understand that they’re fighting this with tooth and nail.”

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