ePrivacy: MEPs Adopt Extreme Report In LIBE Committee

On 19th October, the Civil Liberties justice and home affairs committee (LIBE committee) adopted the report of MEP Marju Lauristin for the review of the ePrivacy Regulation. The report was adopted by a short majority of 31 votes against 24 and one abstention. Additionally, the LIBE committee voted on a mandate to start the trialogue negotiations. The mandate is weak and a clear signal to the Council that not all of the European Parliament is behind the LIBE report.

The adopted report includes many provisions which could seriously impact the direct marketing industry, as well as the digital advertising and media industry. Most of these provisions are the results of amendments put forward by Socialists and Greens MEPs after the EPP decided not to support earlier compromised amendment, and illustrate the strong divisions that exist inside the European Parliament. However, this report is not yet the final position of the European Parliament. MEPs from the ECR and EPP groups have requested that the entire plenary of the European Parliament vote on the mandate for negotiations.

Looking in details into the provisions, the report is negative for direct marketing industry regarding number of various issues, including the definition of direct marketing, provisions on telemarketing, and strict rules for any call centres using automated connecting systems. Additionally, the report restricts quite severely the possibility for the advertising industry to provide data driven advertising and generate revenues for online publishers, through strict privacy settings.

While the provisions of the report are very unbalanced, its weak support in LIBE, and the coming vote in plenary demonstrate how MEPs are split on the issue and how many of them are calling for a more balanced approach to the ePrivacy Regulation. Unless the Parliament review its report and bring more balance into it, it is heading toward very difficult negotiations with the Council, which, while still reflecting on the text, has a much more open and flexible position.