Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype to face strict new EU privacy rules

Some of the most popular internet services like Google, Facebook and WhatsApp are set to face strict new privacy rules from the EU.

The security rules dictate how big messaging services track people online to target advertising at users.

A new leak shows a draft of new proposals from the European Commission which shows how far the EU is willing to go in order to reign down on some of the most well known and popular Silicon Valley firms.

This comes amidst rising tensions between tech giants and the EU with the latter launching a probe in Google in April and also hitting Apple with a multi-billion euro fine in backdated tax to the Irish Government.

The new rules will make it compulsory for websites and browsers to gain consent from users before allowing targeted advertisements to appear. As it stands users have to manually opt-out in order to avoid targeted advertisements, which is based on cookies stored on the computer after browsing a site.

The leaked document also shows popular messaging services such as WhatsApp and Skype are also likely to be affected by the new rules.

The new direction comes as the EU attemps to overhaul its ‘ePrivacy’ policy to counter the growing influence and data collection of the big tech companies and will also cover many aspects of online privacy.

The new rules make it clear that those companies that refuse to follow the new guidelines will be penalized with massive fines up to 4% of a company’s worldwide turnover which means a huge sum of money for the big tech firms.

However critics of the new privacy rules warn that it could hamper the business model of the Internet, which relies primarily on advertising revenue to thrive.

“This is very concerning — it’s putting at risk the entire internet as we know it,” Yves Schwarzbart, head of policy and regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK, told FT.

“Our number one concern is asking for prior permission. Advertising is the funding model of the Internet, and helps publishers create better content”.

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