Die geplante Novelle der so genannten ePrivacy-Verordnung stößt auf Kritik: In einem offenen Brief haben sich Verleger, Vorstandsvorsitzende und Geschäftsführer von mehr als 30 europäischen Medienhäusern an die EU-Kommission und das Europäische Parlament gewandt, darunter auch DIE ZEIT.

Die Verlage fürchten, dass durch die geplante Verordnung personalisierte Werbung und individualisierter Journalismus gefährdet werden, auf denen die digitalen Geschäftsmodelle der Verlage zum Teil aufbauen. Konzerne wie Google oder Facebook würden durch die neue Regelung hingegen begünstigt, heißt es in dem offenen Brief.

Konkret geht es um den Einsatz von Cookies, mit denen Websites individuelle Daten von Netznutzern erfassen. Bislang muss jede Website individuell über den Einsatz von Cookies aufklären. Ginge es nach der EU, müssten User dem Einsatz von Cookies in Zukunft nur noch ein Mal zustimmen, nämlich dann, wenn sie den Browser öffnen. Diese Zustimmung gelte dann pauschal für alle Websites. Cookies von Drittanbietern, die über die Websites ausgeliefert werden, wären hingegen standardmäßig geblockt. Darunter fielen etwa große Werbenetzwerke, die über die Websites ihre Anzeigen ausliefern.

"Die aktuellen ePrivacy-Vorschläge würden dazu führen, dass die Daten europäischer Internetuser sich in den Händen weniger globaler Unternehmen konzentrieren", heißt es in dem offenen Brief. Die Verlage seien in Sorge, dass es "unglaublich schwierig" sein werde, die Browser-Einstellungen für einzelne Angebote zu ändern und Cookies zuzulassen. Es sei Medien damit unmöglich, Lesern personalisierte Inhalte und Marketing oder relevante Werbung anzubieten. Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir den offenen Brief im Wortlaut:

Open letter to the European Parliament / Council Trust, privacy and news – the need to rethink ePrivacy proposals

We support the objective of the Commission’s draft "ePrivacy" regulation, which has the potential to clean up the digital economy, and to restore citizen trust in how their data is used online. Citizens are rightly concerned about the use of their personal data by third party companies of whom they have never heard, and have no idea about the role that they play in their digital lives online. News organisations depend on the trust of our readers, and we support a system of regulation that restores trust, and cleans up the digital environment. But news organisations also use data generated by readers to improve their products and services by offering readers journalism that is relevant to them, and serving display digital advertising that is relevant to readers.

As a result of digital distribution, more digital citizens are accessing high quality news and quality information than ever before. But the increasing trend towards consumers accessing news content via third party gateways such as Google News, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple News, MSN (Microsoft) and Amazon Alexa is changing the way that European citizens consume news, making publishers ever more reliant on a small number of global platforms as a consequence.  Through the current ePrivacy proposals, the Commission proposes that digital citizens must consent to non-strictly necessary tracking on a global basis when they connect to the Internet via a browser interface.  Given that 90 per cent of usage across Europe is concentrated in the hands of just four companies: Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla, this focus on obtaining user permission via the browser interface has the potential to exacerbate the asymmetry of power between individual publishers and these global digital gateways.

The ePrivacy proposals contrast with the implication of the Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – due to come into force in May 2018 - which aims to empower user privacy by forcing sites themselves to make sure that users understand and are empowered to control the gathering of data about their browsing behaviour in context of each site that they visit. By creating a single global permission within the browser interface, the Commission´s ePrivacy proposals will make it more difficult to ensure transparency and meaningful user empowerment in practice, and remove any distinction between publishers who place a high value on the trust of their users, and those who do not.  

While the explanatory memorandum accompanying the ePrivacy proposals does not place an outright ban on publishers communicating with readers in order to seek consent for the use of 3rd party cookies, in practice, publishers are concerned that it will be incredibly difficult to persuade readers to change their browser settings to allow 3rd party cookies.  As a consequence, individual news organisations would be unable to provide readers with personalised content and marketing, or serve relevant digital advertising within their environments.

The practice of serving relevant advertising to readers is now an established norm in the advertising industry, and is essential to ensure that publishers can compete with Google and Facebook who already control 20% of total global advertising spend in 2017.  If as a result of these proposals, news publishers were unable to serve relevant advertising to our readers, this would reduce our ability to compete with the capabilities of domiant digital platforms for digital advertising revenues, ultimately undermining our ability to invest in high quality journalism across Europe.

The current ePrivacy proposals will result in the data of European digital citizens being concentrated in the hands of a few global companies, as a result of which, digital citizens will become less protected. It will give those global companies: a tighter grip on the personal data of European digital citizens; further strengthen their dominance in the European digital economy, and; introduce further complexity for individual publishers, despite the European Commission acknowledging these issues are already covered by the regulation that will enter into force in 2018.

By shifting consent to the collection of data from each individual news site that they visit, to providing a global consent via a small number of powerful gateways, the Commission’s proposals threaten to prevent news organisations from delivering basic functionality such as the marketing of products and services, the tailoring of news products to the needs and desires of news consumers, and relevant and acceptable advertising. The impact on news organisations would be to reduce their ability to deliver high quality products and services, and undermine their ability to generate advertising revenues to reinvest in journalism.

Therefore it is essential that in implementing the objectives of the "ePrivacy" proposals, the European Parliament/Council must work with the news industry to ensure that the directive provides flexibility of implementation to encourage a direct relationship between each internet user and the trusted news organisations that they visit, not further undermine it.

Die Unterzeichner:

Athesia Druck: Bernhard Paris, Manager Medien 

Class Editori: Davide Fumagalli, CDO

DER SPIEGEL, SPIEGEL ONLINE: Thomas Hass, Managing Director
; Jesper Doub, Managing Director SPIEGEL ONLINE

DIE ZEIT, ZEIT ONLINE: Dr. Rainer Esser, Managing Director Zeitverlag Gerd Bucerius GmbH & Co. KG; Christian Röpke, Managing Director ZEIT ONLINE GmbH
; Enrique Tarragona, Managing Director ZEIT ONLINE GmbH


DMG Media: Kevin Beatty, CEO


Editoriale Bresciana: 
Laura Airaghi, Marketing Director


EPC: Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director


Financial Times: John Ridding, CEO


Frankfurter Allgemeine: Thomas Lindner, CEO

Gazzetta di Parma: Mario De Stefano, CDO


GEDI Gruppo Editoriale: 
Monica Mondardini, CEO

Groupe Bayard/La Croix: Georges Sanerot, Président du Directoire

Groupe Figaro CCM Benchmark: Marc Feuillée, Directeur général

Groupe L ́Equipe: Cyril Linette, Directeur général

Groupe Le Monde: Louis Dreyfus, Président du Directoire

Groupe Les Echos/Le Parisien: Francis Morel, CEO

Gruner + Jahr: Julia Jaekel, CEO
; Arne Wolter, CDO


Grupa Wirtualna Polska: Michal Branski, Board Member and VP Product Strategy

Gruppo 24 Ore: Franco Moscetti, CEO


Guardian Media Group: David Pemsel, CEO

Holtzbrinck Publishing Group: Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, CEO

IMPRESA: Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman


L'Humanité: Patrick Le Hyaric, President du directoire et directeur

Libération: 
François Dieulesaint, Gérant


MEDIAHUIS: 
Gert Ysebaert, CEO

News Media Europe: Wout van Wijk, Executive Director

NRC: Rien van Beemen, CEO

Persgroup: Christian Van Thillo, CEO

PRISA: José Luis Sainz, CEO

Sanoma: Susan Duinhoven, President & CEO

Schibsted Media Group: Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO


SETA: 
Gianluigi Campari, CEO


Süddeutsche Zeitung: Stefan Hilscher, Managing Director Süddeutscher Verlag GmbH
; Johannes Vogel, Managing Director Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH

Telegraph Media Group: Murdoch MacLennan, CEO

Unidad Editorial: Javier Cabrerizo, Managing Director