We welcome the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was agreed in mid-December, as it marks a crucial step forward. However, it fails to create a level playing field for telecom operators. And still presents multiple critical aspects.
Following the introduction of the regulation, the electronic communications sector will be forced to abide by a twofold regulation, complying with both the new data protection legislation and the ePrivacy Directive. If Europe wants to support the growth and innovation spreading out within its convergent digital markets, this asymmetry needs to be addressed shortly.
The ongoing, rapid Internet evolution has been providing breeding grounds for several new telecom-alike services (including OTT services) to grow. The point is that, unlike traditional telecom providers, such services are not necessarily bound by the terms of ePrivacy Directive, although they are functionally equivalent to one another.
As a consequence, different rules applying to equivalent services inevitably create unfair competition between telecom operators as well as legal uncertainty and general confusion among consumers. In order for them to benefit from a consistent regulation, regardless of the service provider in question, a prompt revision of the ePrivacy Directive is required.