EBU calls for measurement privacy safeguards

As the European Parliament examines the future ePrivacy Regulation, the EBU has expressed its concern at draft provisions that would hamper European media organisations’ capacity to innovate and improve their digital services.

While the EBU welcomes the overall aims of the proposal, concerns are raised by potential restrictions on the role of third parties which gather audience measurement data on behalf of broadcasters.

Media organisations often rely on contractual agreements with research companies to measure audiences in order to better understand their expectations and needs. This contributes towards improving the overall quality and diversity of media offerings and providing users with a unique experience in the online world.

The EBU therefore calls on Members of the European Parliament to ensure that the ePrivacy Regulation’s exception on audience measurement (under Art. 8 (1)(d)) is extended to contractual third parties gathering data on behalf of media organisations.

In doing so, the EBU joins a coalition that brings together leading associations representing the interests of organisations providing or using audience measurement to ultimately finance and deliver media-driven information society services to the public.

“Public Service Media organisations strive to gather data in the most transparent, secure and accountable manner in order to provide the most relevant experience as well as offer the possibility to discover new content,” commented EBU Head of European Affairs Nicola Frank. “This is why we need a fully-functional data protection framework at EU level which caters for strong end-user privacy and technological feasibility.”

According to the EBU, the proposed Regulation also risks giving web-browsers ‘maximum control’ over users’ privacy settings by centralising consent (under Article 9 (2) and Article 10 (2)). The EBU questions to which extent this approach is consistent with the GDPR requirements regarding consent, which notably has to be specific and informed.

The EBU considers that end-users need the flexibility to decide which websites or apps they agree to share their data with on a case-by-case basis. Media organisations need to be able to ask for the specific consent of end-users visiting their websites regarding the use of cookies and other similar technologies to maintain their business models and ensure legal certainty.

The ePrivacy Regulation aims to update current rules set out in the Directive concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications. The main objective is to keep pace with technological developments and ensure legal consistency with the newly adopted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). MEP Marju Lauristin is currently in charge of drafting the European Parliament’s report on the ePrivacy Regulation and presents her first draft on June 21st in the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee.

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