Coming up in Brussels and Strasbourg
25 – 27 January: CPDP 2017 - Computers, Privacy and Data Protection
26 January: Community of practice for better self- and co-regulation, DG CNECT
8 February: ePrivacy Directive: combining modern marketing & privacy, FEDMA
9 February: Data Flows - The 3rd European Data Economy Conference, Forum Europe
Review of e-privacy rules
On January 10, the Commission published a set of new privacy and data protection rules: a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications, a Regulation on data protection rules applicable to EU Institutions and a Communication on Exchanging and Protecting personal data in a globalised world.
The proposed e-Privacy Regulation updates the e-Privacy Directive. The new rules will cover electronic communications services such as Skype and WhatsApp. Key provisions include:
- Consent: The definition of consent is the same as the GDPR – a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication….by a statement or by a clear affirmative action that a user agrees to the processing of their data. Users will be reminded every six months of the possibility of withdrawing their consent.
- Cookies and online identifiers: Internet browsers should offer users ‘privacy setting options’ that will allow them to decide whether they accept cookies. Website operators will still have the possibility of obtaining consent through individual requests to users.
- Direct marketing: Prior consent will be required for direct marketing (B2C), although Member States will be allowed to use an opt-out system for direct marketing calls. The Commission also proposes a specific prefix for direct marketing calls. The existing customer exemption is included in the proposal (this is already in the current Directive).
- Adblocking: Website providers are entitled to check if a user’s device is able to receive their content without obtaining the user’s consent. It is up to the provider to respond, e.g. by asking users if they use an adblocker and if they would be willing to switch it off.
- Sanctions: The fines proposed are aligned with the GDPR i.e. 20 million euros or 4% of global turnover
The Commission calls upon the Council and the European Parliament to ensure adoption by May 25 2018, when the General Data Protection Regulation will enter into force.
What this means for advertising: Although the Commission’s aim to align the e-Privacy rules with the GDPR to avoid duplication is welcome, the proposal contains threats to advertising. For example, the proposed changes to the rules around cookies should allow businesses to do away with unpopular ‘cookie banners’ but may restrict businesses’ ability to deliver relevant, targeted advertising.
Digital Single Market
Consumer rights in the digital era
On January 12, the S&D Group held a workshop on the contract law proposals on the supply of digital content and online sales of goods. Salla Saastamoinen, Director for Civil and Commercial Justice, DG JUST, explained that the Council has so far focused on the digital content proposal, and a general approach is expected by June. As for the online sales of goods, the working group will start reading the proposal and the Maltese Presidency wants to have a policy debate on the core issues.
The representative of BusinessEurope argued that they would have liked to have a lower level of ambition in terms of the scope of the digital content proposal. The FEDMA representative argued that the proposal is premature, as the General Data Protection Regulation is still in the implementation phase.
Overall, participants agreed that the proposals on the table need to be in line with the General Data Protection Regulation in order not to create any confusion or hinder the implementation of the Regulation. British S&D MEP Lucy Anderson argued that the draft report by Mr Arimont has watered down the few good Commission suggestions.
Digital Economy and Society portfolio assigned to Vice-President Andrus Ansip
As of 1 January, the Digital Economy and Society portfolio has been assigned to Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip following Commissioner Oettinger’s move to Budget and Human Resources. This is in addition to Vice-President Ansip’s current responsibilities.
Calls for restrictions on alcohol marketing
A supplement to the journal Addiction contains a series of articles that claim that young people around the world are exposed to extensive alcohol marketing, that this is linked to youth alcohol consumption, and that the current legislative and self-regulatory rules do not sufficiently protect children and adolescents from exposure to alcohol promotions. The supplement has been welcomed by health campaigners calling for further restrictions on alcohol advertising to be introduced through the revision of the AVMS Directive.
A number of European and national NGOs and health organisations are involved in a campaign around the AVMS negotiations, calling on the Commission and Parliament to ensure a ban on television advertising for HFSS products and alcohol between 6am and 11pm, a ban on alcohol and HFSS product placement and sponsorship, and to enable Member States to limit broadcasts from other countries on public health grounds.
Negotiations on the AVMS Directive are ongoing in the European Parliament. The ENVI Committee is expected to vote on its Opinion on 31 January, with the CULT vote now delayed until March.
Malta takes over Council Presidency
On January 1st, Malta took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union until June 30. The Maltese government will focus on six key areas:
- The Single Market
- Social Inclusion
- Europe’s Neighbourhood
The Maltese Presidency will continue the work on the review of the AVMS Directive. They will also focus on the issue of childhood obesity and will look into the findings of the mid-term evaluation report (2014-2020) of the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity. The Maltese Presidency will present draft Council conclusions, with the overarching goal of halting the rise in overweight and obesity in children and young people (0-18 years) by 2020.
EU 27 and UK set out stalls for Brexit talks to begin
On January 17th, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave her long-awaited speech setting out her plans for Brexit. She said that the UK intends to leave the single market, but retain some association with the customs union whilst remaining able to sign free trade agreements independently. The UK wants to continue participation in certain EU programmes such as those related to research. Other priorities are moving out of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU and controlling immigration. The speech received a mixed reception in Brussels, with European Council President Donald Tusk welcoming the fact that the UK position had finally been revealed, although European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that negotiations will be “very, very, very difficult”.
During a plenary debate following the speech on January 18th, the German Christian Democrat, Manfred Weber, stated that talk of punishing the UK should be set aside, but he questioned whether it would be a full exit, and said that the EPP would not accept the euro being managed in London if it were not part of the EU.
Über die AIG: Die Advertising Information Group (AIG) ist die europäische Lobbying-Plattform der Werbewirtschaft in Brüssel, welche die WKO (Fachverband Werbung und Marktkommunikation) in Kooperation mit dem deutschen ZAW (Zentralverband der deutschen Werbewirtschaft) und dem britischen Werbewirtschaftsverband AA (Advertising Association) betreibt.