EU to sue Netherlands, Portugal, 3 others on telecom rules

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2012 4:46 PM
EU to sue Netherlands, Portugal, 3 others on telecom rules

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU telecoms regulators will take five member states to court - including the Netherlands and Portugal - for not implementing new telecoms rules aimed at protecting users' privacy online, a European Commission official said on Tuesday.

The other countries are Belgium, Poland and Slovenia, the official said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Commission is due to announce its decision to take legal action on Thursday.

The EU executive finalized the rules in 2009, giving the 27 countries in the European Union until May 25 last year to adopt them in national laws.

A key element of the new regulations is the "cookie" reform requiring EU authorities to obtain users' consent to allow the storage of cookies, which are small files used by Web browsers to track usage patterns.

Internet providers, online advertisers and others in the sector protested against the cookie measure, saying it would hinder the way the Internet and businesses work. But privacy advocates argued it could help to prevent the unauthorized collection of data on individuals.

The new legislation also makes it easier for users to switch fixed or mobile phone operators in one day, while keeping their phone number.

The Commission hopes to spur competition in the telecoms sector, especially in data delivery, with its new rules.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield)