Recent developments in the EU: e-privacy

The Commission is consulting on the revision of the e-Privacy Directive, as part of modernising data protection legislation. The consultation, which closes on 5 July 2016, aims to gather views on possible changes in light of technological advances.

In essence, the directive aims to protect privacy and personal data in electronic communications. The adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation led the Commission to carry out a study on the directive. Currently, it applies only to telecoms operators and not to content providers, which arguably creates differing legal standards between businesses that provide a very similar service. For example, services such as Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp do not fall within its scope, despite the fact that they process data over networks. It is likely, therefore, that the new instrument will broaden the scope of the rules to apply to these businesses as well.

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