The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) announced that the Commission’s “Connected Continent” regulatory proposal unduly limit internet freedom and interferes with personal data protection.
Peter Hustinx, EDPS, said about the Commission’s regulatory proposal on harmonising electronic communications services across the EU. “Any monitoring and restriction of the internet activity of users should be done solely to achieve a targeted, specific and legitimate aim. The large-scale monitoring and restriction of users’ internet communications in this proposal is contrary to EU data protection legislation as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Such interference with the rights to personal data protection, confidentiality of communications and privacy will do little to restore consumer confidence in the electronic communications market in Europe.”
According to the Supervisor, devoted to protecting personal data and privacy, the proposal promotes traffic management measures which allow the monitoring of users’ internet communications, including emails sent or received, websites visited and files downloaded in order to filter, slow down or restrict access to illegal services or content. EDPS stressed that the use of these traffic management measures under the broad umbrella of crime prevention or to filter content illegal under national or EU law as is not compatible with the principle of an open internet. Moreover, EDPS added that the supervision of any application of traffic management measures by providers should include a greater role for national data protection authorities to ensure that the privacy and data protection rights of users are fully respected.
In regard with the principle of net neutrality, even though the EDPS welcomed its inclusion in the text, it stressed that it is devoid of substance because of the almost unlimited right of providers to manage internet traffic.
Overall, EDPS consulted the Commission to outline more precise reasons for which traffic management measures can be applied. The Supervisor stressed that concrete measures in favour of personal and data protection, can re-build consumer confidence in the EU electronic communications market. Therefore, the users need to be certain that their personal information are respected.