European Commission expanding privacy rules to WhatsApp, Facebook

Europe proposes expanding telco data privacy rules to WhatsApp, Facebook et al

The European Commission has set out proposals for updating rules which govern the use of personal telecoms data that would expand their remit to cover email and mobile messaging data for the first time — meaning the ePrivacy regulation would also apply to web companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Apple and Google. Telcos have long complained about regulatory asymmetry vis-a-vis use of personal data, with tougher privacy rules applying to data sent using their services vs data sent via comms apps and services operated by Internet companies. All electronics comms providers would be covered under the new proposal — to, as the EC puts it, “reflect the market reality” — although telcos are still not happy, with ETNO and the GSMA putting out a statement arguing the proposal new ePrivacy rules still impose stricter requirements on them when it comes to processing certain types of data vs other comms players. “Rules applying to the processing of location data in connected cars, IoT devices or mobile apps illustrate the issues at stake, as we risk to jeopardise 5G business models,” they argue, calling instead for a “trust-based use of the data collected by telecom operators”. The new rules would allow telcos to make use of comms content and/or metadata to provide “additional services” — such as, in one example provided by the EC, producing heat maps that indicate the presence of individuals to help public authorities and transport companies when developing new infrastructure projects. Although user consent must be obtained for processing data for such purposes — hence the telcos’ complaints they will be unable to complete on a level playing field with other providers already offer additional services, such as digital mapping. Cookie rules are also set to change under the new proposal — in a bid to streamline […]