The member states of the European Union (EU) agreed on Wednesday to revise the rules on the protection of privacy and confidentiality in the use of electronic communications services. The original proposal was presented by the European Commission back in 2017.
The European Council said in a statement that the agreement paves the way for negotiations with the European Parliament on the final text of the new rules which will repeal the previous directives.
These updated ePrivacy rules will define cases in which service providers are allowed to process electronic communications data or have access to data stored on end-users' devices.
Portugal's Infrastructure and Housing Minister Pedro Nuno Santos, president of the Council, said that robust privacy rules are vital for creating and maintaining trust in a digital world.
"The path to the Council position has not been easy, but we now have a mandate that strikes a good balance between solid protection of the private life of individuals and fostering the development of new technologies and innovation," he said.
Portugal is holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
An update to the existing ePrivacy directive of 2002 is needed to cater for new technological and market developments, such as the current widespread use of voice over IP (VoIP), web-based email and messaging services and the emergence of new techniques for tracking users' online behavior. The mandate also covers rules on online identification, public directories, and unsolicited and direct marketing, the Council said.