European Commission launches Public Consultation on e-Privacy

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As part of the Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission recently launched apublic consultation on e-Privacy legislation. The consultation, which is open until 5 July 2016, aims to gather the public and stakeholder’s views on the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and coherence of the 2009 ePrivacy Directive.

With key provisions addressing how telecoms companies and Internet Service Providers have to safeguard subscriber’s online data, the ePrivacy Directive is a vital part in strengthening the public’s trust in the European Digital Single Market and consumer’s confidence if shopping cross-border online.

Allow for easy communication between merchants and consumers

Ecommerce Europe recognizes the importance of strengthening the public’s trust in online services and welcomes the European Commission’s upcoming review of the Directive. It is crucial, during the review process, that EU legislators acknowledge the importance of electronic communications and data-driven marketing in the business models of online merchants. With such business models depending on the contact details they receive from a consumer in the course of an online relationship, Ecommerce Europe believes that imposing too restrictive privacy rules may obstruct European e-commerce businesses and innovation.

Prevent double regulation and harmonize cookie rule

Considering last month’s adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its transposition into law by 2018, Ecommerce Europe asks European policy makers to maintain an integrated approach towards data protection and privacy to avoid double regulation. With a number of rules concerning e-Privacy already included in the GDPR, Ecommerce Europe sees further rules through the ePrivacy Directive as imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens on online merchants.

Ecommerce Europe also believes that current rules on cookies are a suboptimal solution for both online merchants and consumers costing considerable compliance costs to businesses. Ecommerce Europe asks European policy makers to reform the rules towards a fully harmonized, more practical and transparent instrument which is easy and affordable to comply with, especially for smaller web shops.

Next steps

Ecommerce Europe will respond to the public consultation before July 2016 and will participate as an active stakeholder in the European Commission’s consultation process. Ecommerce Europe will also update it’s position paper on Data Protection & Privacy (November 2015) in due time.

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