Current online services and communications apps now don't follow the same privacy rules that apply to telecom operators, but the EC believes they should.
The EU has proposed a slew of comms legislation that will bring the likes of Google's Gmail, Apple's iMessage, Facebook Messenger and more, under the same user information restrictions now abided by telecom firms.
Rules already exist for telecoms providers that prevent them from listening to, tapping, intercepting or storing communications without user consent, except for billing purposes, but the EC is proposing to extend these rules to include all digital communications. The Commission says that its new rules aim to put more control in the users' hands, offering an easy way to accept or decline cookie tracking and other identifiers.
Since 2012, European Union rules have required websites to tell users what cookies are being placed on their machine.
Yves Schwarzbart, head of policy and regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) told Reuters, the Commission's new proposals will particularly hit tech companies that have difficulties directly talking to their end users.
"The European data protection legislation adopted past year sets high standards for the benefit of both EU citizens and companies", said EC justice chief Věra Jourová. "They will ensure that the privacy of electronic communications is protected by up to date and effective rules, and that European institutions will apply the same high standards that we expect from our Member States".
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The EC's proposal looks to close the perceived regulation gap between traditional telecoms companies and predominantly US-based internet communications companies. This, in turn, could deal a heavy blow in the companies' revenue. The proposal is created to protect personal data.
On Tuesday, officials in Brussels proposed new measures to curb Silicon Valley players who-up until now-have been largely immune from the ePrivacy Directive, which requires telecoms operators to adhere to the rules on the confidentiality of communications and the protection of personal data. An example of this, according to the Commission, would be providing heat maps indicating where individuals are, which could help authorities and transport companies build new infrastructure.
As TechCrunch points out, however, the new privacy proposal also lacks some mentions regarding ePrivacy. This writes Bloomberg referring to the rough draft of the rules for IT-companies, the " 112 Ukraine ". These mentions found in earlier drafts are now missing from the new proposal.
They also strengthen bans on unsolicited electronic communication like emails, SMS and by phone without user consent.
How the plans affect United Kingdom citizens remains to be seen, though, as it is quite clearly at odds with new laws the United Kingdom is introducing and with the Brexit process set to be triggered later this year it may end up proving moot.