Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

  • Albrecht (r) says online media cannot expect regulators to ignore fundamental rights on privacy (Photo: Jan Albrecht)

A top MEP working on data protection says upcoming privacy rules will trigger new business models for the ailing online media.

German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht told reporters last week that current media reliance on clicks and adverts to generate revenue has no future.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I think you can earn better money for quality products with real money," he said on Friday (10 November).

The comments follow a widening debate surrounding e-privacy reforms, which aims to enforce and secure the confidentiality of online communications.

Some of those reforms may end up restricting online ads, with rules that seek to give people more say over how their information is being commercially exploited.

The reforms endorsed by the European Parliament prevent, among other things, the use of cookies on websites at the browser's installation. Those same cookies are a key component for advertising revenues and may allow users to be tracked online across platforms.

Albrecht maintains people are willing to pay for quality content they want, similar to the growing online music market, and that consumer rights must be protected.

"Maybe they think some of the content has been devalued because it hasn't cost anything and was only made to get clicks and therefore only targeted advertising," he said.

The question is how to create a business model to get people to spend money rather than relying on advert snooping, he says, noting context-based advertising as an alternative.

"I think the e-privacy regulation will maybe support the media industry in getting there," said Albrecht, who steered the EU's general data protection regulation through the EU parliament.

But critics like the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA), a Brussels-based umbrella group, dispute Albrecht's argument.

They say the reforms would spell the end of free online journalism and consolidate the dominance of the few.

"The regulation will impact directly at the heart of press revenues in the digital environment," said ENPA President Carlo Perrone, last month in a statement.

Similar comments were made by the Brussels-based European Magazine Media Association.

Its president Xavier Bouckaert, in a statement last month, said the proposed default privacy settings would "prevent them from accessing freely to journalistic content".

The European Parliament as a whole endorsed the reforms in late October, meaning that they are now ready to enter talks with the Council, representing member states.

The Parliament position includes a ban on 'cookie walls', on snooping on personal devices via cookies or software updates, or tracking people without their consent. It also restricts third party access to meta-data.

Member states have yet to formulate their negotiating position.

Privacy rules to create jobs, EU data chief says

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, says e-privacy reforms open up new job opportunities for small businesses in Europe and asks EU lawmakers to endorse the proposal in a vote on Thursday.

US tests EU patience over Privacy Shield

The data sharing pact with the US is yet to be fully implemented, as the Americans have failed to appoint people in key positions to ensure EU citizens' personal data is protected.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us