Europeans call for stronger protection of online communications

The European Commission has today published the results of a Eurobarometer survey and a public consultation on ePrivacy, which shows that Europeans want stronger protection, whereas industry and public authorities express more diverse views.

According to the Eurobarometer, a large majority of the respondents within the EU consider the privacy of their personal information, their online communications and their online behaviour very important.


Detailed results from the report have found that more than nine in ten respondents believe it is important that personal information (such as their pictures, contact lists, etc.) on their computer, smartphone or tablet can only be accessed with their permission, and that the confidentiality of their e-mails and online instant messaging is guaranteed (both 92%). More than seven in ten think both of these aspects are very important.

More than 82% of Europeans also say it is important that tools for monitoring their activities online (such as cookies) can only be used with their permission, with 56% of the opinion this is very important.

Changing the privacy settings of their internet browser is the action respondents are most likely to have taken to protect their personal information online, with 60% having already changed the privacy settings on their Internet browser (e.g. to delete browsing history or cookies).

Significant proportions of respondents avoid certain websites because they are worried their online activities are monitored (40%), or use software that protects them from seeing online adverts (37%) or from being monitored (27%).

The report shows that a large majority of respondents agree that a range of measures should be available to protect their privacy when online – In a large majority of European countries, respondents totally agree there should be a range of measures available to protect their privacy.

In fact 93% agree that computer, smartphone or tablet providers should give them regular software updates to protect their information, or that they should be able to encrypt their messages and calls, so they can only be read by the recipient (90%). Almost as many (89%) agree the default settings of their browser should stop their information from being shared.

A large number of respondents find it unacceptable to have their online activities monitored, or to have to pay not to be monitored. Finally, 71% of respondents believe that it is unacceptable for companies to share information about them without their permission, even if it helps companies provide new services they may like.