What is ePrivacy?

ePrivacy -The 2002 ePrivacy Directive is an important legal instrument for privacy in the digital age, and more specifically the confidentiality of communications and the rules regarding tracking and monitoring. The entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation requires the EU legislator to update this text and the European Commission published a proposal on 10 January 2017. After failing to be ratified in the Council, a new proposal will be submitted by the Commission in 2020.

The European Union ePrivacy regulation has been published to broaden the scope of the current ePrivacy Directive and align the various online privacy rules that exist across EU member states. The regulation takes on board all definitions of privacy and data that were introduced within the General Data Protection Regulations, and acts to clarify and enhance it. In particular, the areas of unsolicited marketing, Cookies and Confidentiality are covered in a more specific context.

Unsolicited Marketing

The regulations now include any type of communications, including emails and text messages, to be consented to before being used. Marketers will not be able to send emails or text without prior permission from each email or mobile account holder.


Cookies will now be tracked within software and the user’s browser within settings that each user can change to their needs. This will do away with the litany of banner pop ups that request consent for use of cookies on individual websites. This changes previous regulations which made each website request the ability to use cookies from each user.


ePrivacy & Confidentiality

Since the ePrivacy regulations are an add on to the existing ePrivacy directive, one aim was to broaden the scope to include online communications providers under the same requirements as traditional telecommunications providers. In this regard, companies including Gmail, Skype, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are now required to provide the same level of customer data safety as bricks and mortar providers. Providers of any electronic communication service are required to secure all communications through the best available techniques. This creates a need for websites to stay technologically in sync with the best safety features available on the market.

The new provisions create the necessity for metadata to be treated the same as the actual content of the communication that it is facilitating being sent. It prohibits the interception of any such communication except where authorized by an EU member state specifically under law (such as within a criminal investigation).


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