The newly proposed changes to the ePrivacy Directive by the European Communication Commission, the EC, are set to affect the manner in which social media and messaging companies such as Facebook and Google operate, it has been reported.
Recently, EC’s vice president for Digital Single market, Mr Andrus Ansip, said that the new changes, which address some privacy-related issues, are set to help improve the manner in which users experience the services of the companies.
‘We expect that the new rules will not only guarantee the privacy of individuals who use these services, but also help the companies affected to innovate the more,’ he said.
Mostly, the new changes seek to regulate the manner in which the likes of Facebook and Google handle the data of their clients in the European market. As things stand now, companies that run messaging apps can easily collect the metadata of their customers without first seeking to get the consent of their clients.
Also, companies can use the data of their customers or advertising purposes without first informing the customer that they intend to use the data for advertising purposes. Also, it has been like the companies to send multiple cookie warnings to the customers who visit their sites for the first time.
It appears that the newly proposed changes seek to address all these issues for European customers. Interestingly, under the new rules, companies will now not be allowed to make marketing phone calls to customers using hidden numbers. It will be necessary for businesses that make such phone calls to display their numbers or use a specially-prepared prefix to show that that the call is related to marketing.
Also, if the proposed changes are ratified, websites will only have to issue cookie warnings to new clients if their cookie policies affect the privacy of the customers. However, if the process of collecting and storing cookies only works to improve the manner in which website visitors experience the website, companies may not have to issue cookie warnings to new visitors to their websites.
However, the new rules are likely to spark a controversy among industry players. For example, it has been observed that as much as the rules may be favourable for internet companies, they may have an adverse impact on traditional telecoms.
Lise Furh, speaking on behalf of ETNO, a lobby group of European telecoms, said that the new rules might be unfavourable to telecoms.
‘It may be difficult for telecoms to expand under the proposed regulations as compared to the internet-based companies,’ it was said.
It remains to be seen how the new rules may affect other industry players such as advertisers, who generate a massive chunk of revenue, and other companies.