Data protection with WhatsApp: EU countries agree on rules – digital


After four years of negotiation, the EU countries have agreed on a common position on data protection for communication via WhatsApp and other online services. However, critics see the text adopted on Wednesday as major threats to user privacy. Germany abstained from the vote, as it was called from diplomatic circles.

Before the new rules can come into force, the EU member states have to negotiate a common position with the European Parliament. However, Parliament is calling for significantly stricter data protection requirements.

The aim of the so-called ePrivacy Regulation is to protect privacy and confidentiality when using electronic communication services. “Solid data protection rules are essential to build and maintain trust in a digital world,” said Portuguese Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos for the Portuguese EU Presidency. He spoke of a balance “between a solid protection of the private life of the individual and the promotion of the development of new technologies and innovations”.

The German data protection officer Ulrich Kelber sees it completely differently. The EU Parliament and the EU Commission would have to advocate a higher level of data protection in the upcoming negotiations, he said. Otherwise several red lines would be crossed. “I am stunned by how seriously the fundamental rights of European citizens are being interfered with.” As an example, Kelber mentioned that the position of the EU states provides for the reintroduction of data retention, although this has already failed several times in court. Personal data could also be processed for other purposes without the consent of the user.

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