MEPs want stronger privacy rules for online communications

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MEPS want stronger privacy rules for online communicationsMEPs are calling for EU privacy law to be updated as protection for citizens, which will cover new communication tools, including stronger privacy rules for all new electronic tools and a ban on cookie walls blocking access to a website if there is no consent.

The draft proposals to ensure high standards of privacy, confidentiality and security in electronic communications across the EU, were approved on Thursday by the Civil Liberties Committee.

The proposals would apply to SMS and telephone services, and would update the EU’s existing e-privacy rules to cover recently introduced internet-enabled services, such as WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger and Facebook.

The text, drafted by Marju Lauristin (S&D, ET) was passed by 31 votes to 24, with one abstention.

MEPs are also calling for a ban on “cookie walls,” which block access to a website if the person does not agree to his or her data being used by the same site.

MEPs say that it should be prohibited to snoop on personal devices via cookies or software updates, or track people without their clear approval through public hotspots or Wi-Fi in shopping centres.

They added that “privacy by default” settings should become standard for all software used for electronic communications, and service providers must provide for strong encryption.

MEPs want to set strict limits on data processing and insist that data should only be used for the purpose of which consent has been given by the individual.

“Meta-data,” which can provide information on numbers called, websites visited, geographical location etc, should be treated as confidential and never passed on to third parties, the MEPs said.

The next step will be for the full Parliament to be asked at its plenary session in Strasbourg next week to formally confirm the committee decision to enter into negotiations with the Council. But the Council must agree on its own negotiating mandate before talks can start.

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