EU hopes to impose data restrictions on Internet firms

EU hopes to impose data restrictions on Internet firms

Summary: The European Union hopes to impose new restrictions on Internet firms, limiting the ways they can use and sell data.

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European Union lawmakers hope to revamp the regulation of Internet firms in order to protect consumer data.

According to Reuters, Internet companies including social networking site Facebook and search engine giant Google may have to get additional permission from their users before selling or using data in the future if the European Union gets its way.

The EU wants to give consumers an additional layer of data protection by imposing harsher regulations on firms with an online presence, giving users more control over their personal data as well as limiting what firms can do with data they gather.

They are not alone in this fight, as the data protection commissioner of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has reportedly written to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, threatening a €20,000 fine if the social networking site continues to refuse allowing users to create anonymous accounts.

The kinds of data online companies collect and store on a regular basis include browsing habits, messages and photos. Sometimes, this data is used to tailor third-party advertising to a user, or is sold for market research purposes.

"Users must be informed about what happens with their data," said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Member of the European Parliament keen on the reform told the publication. "And they must be able to consciously agree to data processing -- or reject it."

A number of firms, including Google and Facebook, are lobbying against the proposed reforms, arguing that such regulation could have a negative impact on business and innovation, especially considering the international nature of the digital platform.

The market for online data is massive. Current estimates suggest that over 60 hours of YouTube video is uploaded every minute, and click-through advertising can make large firms billions in revenue a year. However, the EU is determined to keep privacy and data protection regulations strict. EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in November that online service providers could find themselves in breach of antitrust law if they prevent customers from moving their personal data to rival services, and also proposed last year fines of up to two percent of turnover for companies that breach Europe's data protection rules.

The 27-country strong European Commission will begin debating the regulations within the coming months.

Topics: Data Management, Legal, EU

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5 comments
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  • EU should concentrate on protecting user data from foreign legislations

    EU should concentrate on protecting user data from foreign legislations such as Patriot act. But they won't do it because US government lobby against something like that. So EU please stop making noise about cosmetic legislations.
    p.vinnie@...
    • How do they do that?

      Mayhap bar companies headquartered or chartered in countries with incompatible laws from doing business in the EU? And if that's what the European Parliament decides to do, will it prompt the U.S. and other countries to repeal the laws you find objectionable? Or will it just give European ones a competitive edge, prompting the WTO to intervene?
      John L. Ries
      • countries like....

        Bulgaria, Poland ,,,,, etc I wonder??

        Anyway the EU is great on passing legistlation when which they know is widely ignored in much of Europe, and poorly enforced.
        cymru999
  • Why should Facebook allow anonymous profiles,

    Why should Facebook allow anonymous profiles, it a private company. It not like Facebook is providing a public service or it something citizens are mandated to use by the government. If people do not want to use their real names do not use the service, pretty simple. An any judge with a brain should agree with me.
    Knowles2
  • The Falling US

    We must remember our influence isn't as much NOW as it use to be in fact Europe won't listen to us any more and will try to put their restrictions on anything coming from the USA some of it I wish we would do to protect our population but Business is in charge more and more in the U.S. and at this point you may receive a Certificate for a Gun in America if you Buy European. We really are becoming the laughing Stock of the world. As your friends in other countries.
    rbwfla