Privacy and human rights organisations urged the European Parliament to solidify its stance on stricter privacy laws for messaging apps, as it expressed concerns proposals by the European Council would validate data protection abuses.

In a letter to the Parliament, a group of 30 organisations including Amnesty International and Privacy International warned the Council’s position weakened proposals by the legislative branch to improve protections for users regarding tracking, monitoring and consent.

The organisations said the Council watered down these plans by introducing “ambiguity” on when data tracking is considered necessary, in turn legitimising potential “abuses and breaches of data protection law” and failing to address a deficit in user trust.

In a decision taken in February, the Council outlined certain situations where messaging app providers “may process metadata”, for example location and receipt of communication, “for a purpose other than that for which it was collected, even when this is not based on the user’s consent or certain provisions on legislative measures under European Union or member state law”.

The European Commission planned to impose tighter rules covering the handling of customer messages, calls and data in messaging apps by May 2018, but the process was slowed by a lack of consensus on different points.