MEPs on the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament have voted to defend technology users' privacy in today’s vote on the reform of the ePrivacy Directive, rejecting pressure from industry lobby groups in alliance with the EPP group.

With this modernisation of a 15-year old legal framework, new technologies are being taken into account, and rules brought into line with the General Data Protection Regulation that comes into force next year. The old legal framework did not cover voice over IP services such as Skype or messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.

Hailing the vote as a preliminary but welcome success for privacy rights, GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst commented:

“I am delighted that the Civil Liberties Committee has stood up against intense pressure from lobbyists, built up over months by the advertising industry and US internet giants.”

“Today the worst potential loopholes were avoided. Big internet companies had repeatedly requested permission to process the metadata from online communications, but this would have opened the door to misuse of personal data and the users’ loss of any control over their data.

“It is particularly important that it is forbidden to snoop on consumers' devices, or to track them without approval through wi-fi in shopping centres or train stations. So-called cookie or tracking-walls, which block access to a website if one does not agree with the abuse of one's own data, are to be expressly forbidden. Today's vote is a crucial step, not just for data protection, but for our social lives in the digital future.”

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