MEPs voted on Thursday a strengthening of Regulation “ePrivacy” to force the instant communication services like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to ensure confidentiality of exchanges.
MEPs voted Thursday to toughen privacy rules messaging or email services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype aligning them with those of telecommunications operators.
Only the latter were previously subject to regulation “ePrivacy” while in the new version approved by the Committee on Civil liberty European Parliament, major Internet players will also have to comply.
Users will have a choice to be tracked
The text obliges operators and service providers to ensure confidentiality of communications of users and ask for their consent before following the internet to offer them targeted advertisements.
MEPs strengthened provisions originally proposed by the European Commission by requiring web browsers to not allow default targeted advertising based on browsing habits.
Users must explicitly allow sites to set cookies on their devices. The sites will also ban preventing users from accessing their content if they do not agree to be tracked.
Bad move for the online advertising industry
The measure was criticized by players in online advertising, which believe it will force the sites to offer free content.
“The news sites and other online services are based on economic models paid by advertising to finance their content creation,” said Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe, which brings together players from advertising on the Internet. “From the content given for nothing will ultimately worth nothing” , he insists.
The European Consumers Organization (BEUC) has however welcomed the committee vote.
“Consumers should not be forced to give up their privacy when they go on a site, send an email or buying something online,” said Monique Goyens, BEUC Director-General.
“It is alarming that the Internet companies that boast of being at the forefront of new trends and drivers of the digital economy cling to advertising models based on the spying of individuals”, she adds.
The new regulation “ePrivacy” is however not yet endorsed since it will be a compromise with the Member States, who are divided on the issue.
The elected representatives of the European People’s Party (center right), the first group represented the European Parliament, also voted against the new version, saying it would stifle innovation.