ePrivacy: Regulatory implications and impact on digital SMEs

On Thursday 7 December, the Developers Alliance hosted a Tech Policy Dialogue entitled "ePrivacy: Regulatory implications and impact on digital SMEs.". The event brought together industry representatives and policy-makers to discuss the ePrivacy Regulation and its potential consequences on small, innovative European businesses.

The event provided a platform for the representatives of three European digital companies, including Skander Garroum, Co-Founder of Airy, a German/American company providing messaging services for businesses and consumers; Florian Geuppert, CEO of Gutefrage, a German question and answer website; and Sabrina Bouguessa, General Counsel of Teads, the no.1 video advertising marketplace in the world, to share their concerns regarding the proposed legislation.

Our community has, on several occasions since the very beginning of the discussions around the ePrivacy Regulation, spoken up against its potential serious disruption on small businesses and software developers’ business models and market choices.

Software developers have shown their commitment to the highest protection of their users’ data and privacy, and their support for any effort aimed at streamlining existing privacy rules and making them fit the digital age. However, we believe that the ePrivacy Regulation will not deliver on either those objectives and its obligations have been worsened by the passage in the European Parliament.

Many issues remain open.

In particular, the interplay between the proposed text and other legal instruments regulating data management and data protection, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are still unclear. Additionally, the proposal lacks the legal flexibility needed to allow software to perform correctly, to guarantee a meaningful and positive user experience, and to safeguard innovation.

The Developers Alliance’s Tech Policy Dialogue stimulated an interesting discussion. The panel debate on “The ePrivacy challenge: striking the right balance between trust, privacy and innovation,” in particular, allowed the representatives from the digital SMEs and the EU Institutions to discuss how fair ePrivacy rules can enhance trust in the digital space and boost innovation.

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The interaction was very positive. In conclusion, the speakers agreed that ensuring confidentiality of users’ communications and the protection of their data must be guaranteed but, at the same time, it is important to do so in a way that allows future consumers to enjoy the next wave of exciting and innovative digital products and media to emerge in Europe.

The Developers Alliance and its members took the opportunity to call on the co-legislators to be careful in the next steps of the legislative process and to take into account the practical implication of the current text for both for businesses and consumers.

We look forward to continuing this critical discussion in order to find a solution that supports digital innovation in Europe and creates a workable environment, based on consumers’ trust in the communications services they use.


MICHELA PALLADINO

Director, European Policy & Government Relations