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One of Jisc’s activities is to monitor and, where possible, influence regulatory developments that affect us and our customer universities, colleges and schools as operators of large computer networks. Since Janet and its customer networks are classified by Ofcom as private networks, postings here are likely to concentrate on the regulation of those networks. Postings here are, to the best of our knowledge, accurate on the date they are made, but may well become out of date or unreliable at unpredictable times thereafter. Before taking action that may have legal consequences, you should talk to your own lawyers. NEW: To help navigate the many posts on the General Data Protection Regulation, I've classified them as most relevant to developing a GDPR compliance process, GDPR's effect on specific topics, or how the GDPR is being developed. Or you can just use my free GDPR project plan.

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Privacy online: is a separate Directive still needed?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 09:48

Now that the General Data Protection Regulation has been completed, the European Commission is reviewing the ePrivacy Directive. This law was introduced in 2002 as part of the telecommunications framework, and it was recognised at the time that it was likely to be largely replaced by a future general privacy law.

That has taken longer than expected, and in the meantime technology has developed in ways that highlight the main problem of sector-specific law: defining the sector. The ePrivacy directive only covers telecommunications services so, for example, telephony providers are covered by it but internet telephony providers aren't, while apps on your mobile phone can lawfully use location data in ways that the mobile network provider can't (Bird & Bird's analysis points out these and other inconsistencies ).

Our response therefore recommends two principles: that general privacy law (such as the GDPR) should be preferred, with sector-specific regulation only where there is a sector-specific problem; and that regulation should focus on privacy-harming behaviour, not on the specific technology that may currently be used to enable it. Otherwise inconsistent regulation, and inconsistent privacy protection, will continue to emerge as technologies and our use of them develop.