As referenced in our May edition, in May last year the Commission adopted the Digital Single Market Strategy, which announced that, following the implementation of the GDPR the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC as amended) ("Directive") would also be reviewed.
The Directive is implemented into UK law by the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations, and regulates telecommunications companies' and internet service providers' handling of personal data. It also restricts the sending of unsolicited electronic direct marketing. It was last updated in 2009 where new requirements were introduced relating to cookies.
The Commission announced in April that it was opening a consultation into the Directive, which would be seeking views on the effectiveness of the current Directive and possible changes to the Directive. The Commission has stated the aim of the consultation to be "reinforcing trust and security in digital services in the EU with a focus on ensuring a high level of protection for citizens and a level playing field for all market players".
The consultation closed on 5 July.
The ICO's response highlighted that although the Directive has gone some way to achieving its objectives of protecting the privacy and confidentiality of communications across the EU, it was difficult to guarantee full protection of privacy and confidentiality in a "changing technological landscape", mentioning in particular the use of internet protocols which route data outside of the EU and so outside of the scope of the Directive. The response also raised concerns about the clarity of definitions within the Directive as well as the problems with interpreting certain provisions and definitions in the face of changing technology. However, it also considered that many of the issues that were the subject of the consultation will be covered off by the GDPR.
The ICO's response to the consultation can be accessed here.
The European Commission have since published a summary of the responses to the consultation available here.
For further information on the Digital Single Market please click here.