To most of us, the new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) seems to be all over the place and the single most important regulatory game changer as of late, but in its it wakes will also follow many other regulatory changes. One of these is the e-Privacy regulation, which will complement the GDPR in regards of cookies and electronic communications.
In this second blog post (following “What is the e-privacy regulation part 1/2”), we will look the expected consequences of the e-Privacy regulation from a larger perspective, in regards of communications meta-data and possible new business areas.
When electronic communication is conducted, the message conveyed is typically what one thinks of – i.e. what I write in the email to my friend. The privacy aspect that immediately comes to mind is that I want to keep my communications confidential. However, much can also be learned about me and my network from the communications’ meta-data, such as time of the communication, locations, destinations, etc. Unless the meta-data is needed for billing a customer, or the customer has consented to it, the proposed e-Privacy regulation states that the meta-data shall be anonymised or deleted by the service provider.
This can potentially enable a totally new category of business opportunities, based on meta-data from electronic communication. From such data, it will be possible to produce heat maps indicating the presence of individuals in urban areas, monitor and predict the flow of movements and transports, and much more.
The proposal for the e-Privacy regulation is currently subject to much discussion (in regards of inter alia wifi-tracking of persons, and analysis of both content and meta-data). The aimed for launch date of the regulation, 25th May 2018, is ambitious, and it remains to be seen both if the e-Privacy regulation will become applicable law on this date, and if so, what content it will then have.
Regardless, for digital businesses with expertise in data collection and analysis, the future will be vibrant with possibilities following the e-Privacy regulation.