Google may be forced to stop reading your Gmail for ads

The European Union is looking to take additional steps to guard the privacy of European internet users. The new initiative might limit the power of internet companies when it comes to collecting user data for various purposes. Targets include Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Apple and pretty much any other company that handles any sort of user data.

Internet companies including Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Apple, and others would have to guarantee that messages, voice calls, and email conversations are confidential. For example, force Google to stop reading your Gmail to serve targeted ads without your approval.

The new proposed laws would also affect cookies, which companies can use for various purposes including tracking users online. The new rules should make users “more in control of their settings, providing an easy way to accept or refuse the tracking of cookies and other identifiers in case of privacy risks.”

Users will have to explicitly opt-in when it comes to sharing data with third parties. Services that use location data and other metadata would still be available to internet companies, and the EU believes they’ll bring over new business opportunities.

But privacy has to be guaranteed, and businesses would have to ask for consent before using any data from their customers. “Privacy will be guaranteed for both content and metadata derived from electronic communications (e.g. time of a call and location),” the EU writes. “Both have a high privacy component and, under the proposed rules, will need to be anonymized or deleted if users have not given their consent unless the data is required for instance for billing purposes.”

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