ePrivacy Regulation: SIIA Urges EU to Take Needed Time to Fix Concerns About Impact on Digital Content and Services

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A piece in DigiDay yesterday draws attention to the fact that publishers are at risk under the draft ePrivacy Regulation under consideration in Brussels. At this time, the draft Regulation is in a state of flux, and the outcome is hard to know, with a possible tightening of the current requirements on cookies.

Under the current ePrivacy Directive, often referred to as the “Cookie Directive” publishers merely need to get consent, by having readers click a box that they consent to the use of cookies.  As the DigiDay article points out, the new regulation could empower browsers to play more of a gatekeeper role, which is one of several possible outcomes.

SIIA has been active in highlighting the problems for European policymakers.  On July 1, 2016, we filed comments arguing that the proposal should not be extended to software and digital content publishers and over-the-top-content providers, who would continue to be regulated under the more flexible rules of the General Data Protection Regulation. 

On May 18, 2017 SIIA organized a public event in Brussels along with the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE). In the audience were members of the European Commission and aides to members of Parliament as well as representatives of the press, industry, and civil society. The discussion featured representatives from European publishers, Google, Internet advertisers and SIIA, all raising concerns about the proposal, especially the new requirement that consumer choices about cookies on websites would be made at the browser level, with the default set to not accept cookies.  Read our full comments at the event here.

What is currently up for discussion (although things are moving fast), is the European Council’s “Revised Draft” to the draft EU ePrivacy Regulation, which was published on September 8, 2017.  However, the Council will make additional modifications, especially with respect to the Recitals.  Parliament is also involved in the discussions and there will later this year and next year be “trialogues” involving the Commission, the Council, and the Parliament.

Given the importance of the issues at stake and the intensity of the views of many stakeholders (including European stakeholders), SIIA urges the Commission, Council, and Parliament to take the time to get this right even it means delaying the planned May 25, 2018 entry-into-force of the ePrivacy Regulation.

Carl Carl Schonander is Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy.