The EU has proposed a slew of comms legislation that will bring the likes of Google’s Gmail, Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger and more, under the same user information restrictions currently abided by telecom firms. Amid the changes is also a clarification on adblockers - solely that they're legal to use, and for publishers to track.
Firstly, the newly proposed data protection legislation creates a new issue for internet messaging firms, users would have to opt in to being served targeted ads by accepting cookies onto their systems. Reuters reports that the firms will be unable to scan user correspondence in order to deliver relevant, targeted ads.
The new restrictions would bring the web companies into line with laws abided by domestic telecom firms while severely limiting each free service's ad-funded revenue models.
EU Commission, first vice-president Frans Timmermans, said: "Our proposals will complete the EU data protection framework. They will ensure that the privacy of electronic communications is protected by up to date and effective rules, and that European institutions will apply the same high standards that we expect from our Member States."
On getting the option to opt into cookies, Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president for the digital single market, added: “It's up to our people to say yes or no.”
Also of particular interest to advertisers will also be the Commission's stance on adblockers, i.e. the fact it the EC will not regulate their implementation, leaving web users free to install such programs.
One concession is that websites will be able to see what users are unable to receive their ads. From here they can decide how to deal with individuals using ad blockers, including asking them to turn them off, or simply making readers aware that the content is ad supported.
The news counters claims by Alexander Hanff, a privacy consultant and campaigner for Think Privacy, who in 2016 argued at AdWeek Europe that publishers were breaking the law by detecting whether web users were using adblockers.