Recently the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (the Working Party) published their opinion on the evaluation and review of the E-Privacy Directive. The Working Party has called for amendments to the E-Privacy Directive to take account of the General Data Protection Regulation as well as the changes in technology and perceptions by consumers of their rights in personal data.

The Working Party requests that the current law remain primarily the same but should be extended to address geo-location and traffic data and the use of the same for marketing and other intrusive purposes.

The E-Privacy Directive has in the past applied only to traditional telecommunication providers but the Working Party requires changes to take account of “functionally equivalent new players” such as “virtual network operators and providers of voice over IP, instant messaging, web mail and messaging in social networks”.

With regards to so called “cookies”, the Working Party feels that the requirement to give notice to consumers of the use of cookies should be simplified where cookies are non-intrusive or obvious but that there should be more focus on transparency and consent where traffic and location data are not only collected by traditional telecommunication service providers but by other parties which may enable them to profile individuals “interests and whereabouts”.

More specifically the Working Party feels that when it comes to consent for the use of cookies and metadata in traffic and location information then consent should not be required where the data is necessary for transmission or security or billing, but should be required where the data is used for profiling and tracking.

The Working Party’s Opinion should be considered carefully by businesses such as retail who are increasing the use of technologies that track location and footfall from phones and tablets using for example Mac addresses.