European Commission launches consultation on the ePrivacy Directive

On 12 April 2016, the European Commission (EC) launched a public consultation to review the ePrivacy Directive, which establishes the rules governing the processing of personal data and the approach towards privacy in the electronic communications sector. The consultation runs until 5 July 2016.

The ePrivacy Directive was updated in 2009 to provide clearer rules on customers' rights to privacy and confidentiality of communications online. It introduced the requirement to notify the competent national authorities, and in specific cases the concerned individuals, of personal data breaches and enabled people to take legal action against spammers. It ensured consumers were better informed about 'cookies'. The Directive also allows exemptions to certain privacy rules where law enforcement and national security is concerned.

The digital landscape has evolved significantly since then. Many Europeans use internet-based voice and messaging services instead of, or in addition to, their mobile phones or fixed connections. In parallel, the EU has started a modernisation process of the data protection framework, culminating in the agreement on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last December.

Through the consultation, the Commission seeks to gather views on the effectiveness, efficiency relevance, and coherence of the current EU rules, and also on possible approaches for the revision of the Directive. Contributions are sought on: the scope of the Directive's application; on how to ensure security and confidentiality of communications; on the rights of subscribers; on unsolicited commercial communication; and on ways to improve the implementation and enforcement of the Directive.

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