True « ePrivacy » is what we need for European entrepreneurship

As a company based in France, with subsidiaries in Germany and Italy, Qwant is very proud to be European, and successfully so.

We launched our general search engine in 2013 being confident that European internet users would switch to services that fully respect their right to privacy, as set forth by the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union. We embrace these European values not only as citizens, but also as a company. They help build a competitive advantage.

Therefore, since its very first day Qwant designed innovative products with one rule: create usage and economic value while collecting as little personal information as possible so that users can trust and use our services. Millions of users have already adopted Qwant and our growth is continuously accelerating, leading the way for many other entrepreneurs to follow.

We believe Europe is the place where companies will create jobs with groundbreaking innovations based on these new paradigms. But companies won’t be able to do so and compete with current dominant actors if the European Union does not make its rules and values fully respected. We must stand by our Charter, and set the bar high when it comes to the protection of the fundamental rights of Internet users.

That is why we call the European Parliament to adopt the most protective regulations where Internet users can trust services they use. The ePrivacy Regulation (COM(2017) 10 final / 2017/0003 (COD)) currently discussed by the European Parliament must affirm that Europeans should always give a free, explicit, specific and informed consent when companies want to collect their data and track them online.

No authorization should ever be presumed from default settings of a web browser or application. Web browsers, which are often offered by the corporations who sell targeted advertising, must have the obligation to protect the privacy of their users. This requires that they specifically inform their users anytime a third party asks to install new cookies or use other data collection technologies, so that the user can make an informed and specific decision.

We thus call the Members of Parliament to adopt the LIBE amendments that protect the rights of users, including amendments 76, 78, 83, 523, 539, 540, 85, 583, 620, 645, and 655.

The advertising business can never excuse practices where companies disrespect users’ privacy and free choice, and Qwant is a living proof that we can make advertising revenue without collecting and sharing personal data. Businesses will need to adapt and respect European fundamental rights if they want to enter the European market, and most will do so. Even with the highest standards, the proposed regulation will not prohibit tracking users and collecting excessive amounts of data. It will only require that consumers allow such collection and processing with the fullest knowledge of what they agree to, whenever they agree to it.

This is why Qwant and its partners urge Members of the Parliament and UE decisions makers to adopt a new regulation which meets European values and where Internet users can trust services they use. We look forward to the innovation, competition and privacy that a strong ePrivacy Regulation will give European businesses and European consumers.