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ETNO and GSMA about New E-Privacy Regulation : Telcos Call for a Customer-Friendly and Innovation-Ready Approach

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Today, the European Commission has presented its Proposal for a Regulation on e-Privacy. It is intended to replace Directive 2002/58/EC and it adds to the existing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

ETNO and GSMA Europe recognise the European Commission’s goal to protect the confidentiality of electronic communications and establish a harmonised framework for electronic communications data. Telecom operators are committed to enhancing consumer trust, which is crucial for the development of the data economy.

However, we call on the co-legislators to correct the new e-Privacy Regulation and make sure it allows a customer-friendly and innovation-ready approach. Only in this way the EU will capitalise on the data economy, create new societal opportunities and boost the provision of innovative consumer services.

While we embrace the need to fully protect consumers, we believe that the General Data Protection Regulation already provides a technologically-neutral and future-oriented framework to this end. Restrictive e-Privacy rules would result in unfair double regulation of one sector compared to others.

For this reason, ETNO and the GSMA call for legislators to ensure that the final Regulation takes into account new services and that all providers are subject to the same rules. Unless we overcome the current inconsistencies and restrictions, telecom operators in Europe will be prevented from expanding consumer choice and offering new competitive services to citizens.

We call on legislators to ensure that the new e-Privacy Regulation does not miss the opportunity to provide a consistent framework for the data economy, enabling companies to provide data-driven services. This can be achieved by making sure that the new Regulation:

  • is fully aligned with the GDPR as regards further processing of personal data. Accordingly, this should be allowed when compatible with the initial purpose for which the data was collected, when an impact assessment has been performed and if appropriate safeguards apply (e.g. pseudonymisation). In this way we can, for example, perform big data analytics in the interest of customers or for public purposes;
  • does not single out Communication Services by applying stricter requirements than those imposed on other service providers that process similar data (e.g. source, destination, date, time and/or location of the data or device). Only in this way we can, for example, provide mapping services that compete with those already provided by other players.

As Europe demands that telcos build a 5G and Internet of Things-ready Europe, we need to ensure that the new e-Privacy Regulation is consistent with such shared objectives. Both consumers and the industry need simple and clear rules instead of a double regime with blurred boundaries. Rules applying to the processing of location data in connected cars, IoT devices or mobile apps illustrate the issues at stake, as we risk to jeopardise 5G business models. A trust-based use of the data collected by telecom operators is crucial to realising the benefits of the Digital Single Market.

Lise Fuhr, Director General of ETNO, said: “There is no European data economy without an innovation-oriented Regulation. Telcos should be able to innovate and provide more choice to European customers”.

Afke Schaart, Vice-President Europe at GSMA, said: “Just like the Commission, we consider it is fundamental to create a privacy framework that enhances consumer trust in the context of electronic communications. However, we must ensure that the detailed requirements, such as the limited lawful grounds for processing, do not inadvertently frustrate use of metadata that is both innovative and sensitive to privacy concerns”.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences. For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA and @GSMAPolicy.

About the ETNO

ETNO has been the voice of Europe’s telecommunication network operators since 1992 and has become the principal policy group for European electronic communications network operators. Its 41 members and observers from Europe and beyond are the backbone of Europe’s digital progress. They are the main drivers of broadband and are committed to its continual growth in Europe. ETNO members are pan-European operators that also hold new entrant positions outside their national markets. For more information, see ETNO’s website www.etno.eu. Follow ETNO on Twitter @ETNOAssociation.

Contact information

Media inquiries:
For ETNO
Alessandro Gropelli, Director of Communications
gropelli@etno.eu
+32 476 94 18 39
or
For GSMA
Olivier Lechien, PR Director Europe
olechien@gsma.com
+32 479 99 01 63

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