Technology

Google, Facebook Face Tighter EU Grip With New Privacy Law

Google, Facebook Face Tighter EU Grip With New Privacy Law

Companies that flout confidentiality of communications rules face fines of up to four percent of their global annual turnover, under the commission's planned e-privacy measures-the same penalty that will be dished out to firms that violate the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into action in April 2018.

Their proposal still has to be approved by the European Parliament and the European member states. Additionally, it aims to set a strategic approach to issues concerning the worldwide transfer of personal data.

Under a proposal presented by the European Commission yesterday, digital media companies will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers' conversations and get their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalised ads. Users would have control of their setting and easy ways to accept and refuse tracking cookies and identifiers in the event of privacy risks.

In addition to providing privacy of communication of its customers, the Internet company will have to ask for permission to use personal data for displaying targeted advertising.

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The proposals also give opportunity for telecoms groups to analyse customer metadata, the EC said, as while the current rules allow telecom companies to only process traffic and location data for value-added services and for billing purposes, the new proposal will allow companies to process communication content, and metadata for other purposes if users have given their consent, provided that the company complies with privacy safeguards. Previously, this directive only considered emails as confidential online messages.

The EC also said that it would hold discussions on reaching "adequacy decisions" - allowing "for the free flow of personal data to countries with "essentially equivalent" data protection rules to those in the European Union - with key trading partners in east and south-east Asia, starting with Japan and South Korea in 2017, and also with interested countries in Latin America and the rest of Europe".

Afke Schaart, Vice-President Europe at GSMA, said: "Just like the Commission, we consider it is fundamental to create a privacy framework that enhances consumer trust in the context of electronic communications". That is a concern worldwide, including in the United States where many users are taking steps to ensure their privacy. Our draft ePrivacy Regulation strikes the right balance: "it provides a high level of protection for consumers, while allowing businesses to innovate". Clearly these revenue streams are important to such companies.

"This proposal risks harming the livelihood of millions of websites and apps that rely on digital advertising to fund content and tools for consumers, not just in Europe, but in the USA as well", says Dave Grimaldi, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's executive vice president of public policy, in a statement emailed to The Christian Science Monitor. They also argued that they now using low-risk tools that can not identify users. That means internet users who don't allow their data to be trackers can't be targeted with personalised ads, which advertisers warned could cut into their online business.


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