In January 2017 the Commission published in an ePrivacy package including a proposal for a Regulation that concerns healthcare providers.

The measures presented by the Commission aim to update current rules, extending their scope to all electronic communication providers. They also aim to create new possibilities to process communication data and reinforce trust and security in the Digital Single Market. At the same time, the proposal aligns the rules for electronic communications with the new world-class standards of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

HOPE released a Position Paper on ePrivacy and identified several issues related to healthcare:

• Public networks will need to comply with the new legislation;
• Healthcare providers contacting their patients by text / email using a public network will have to comply;

The main concerns are related to few provisions of the proposal that, according to HOPE, should include some restriction, for health purposes, public health and social security reasons. For example to make sure that emergency services have enough breathing space to be able to do what they need to do to respond to a person in a medical emergency or data. Also, access to some metadata (ie location data) might be needed from public electronic communications in order to see peak times and locations of A&E services for example.