Europe Prepares New Data Protection Laws


The European Union will propose new, more rigorous rules in the next few days, concerning the way in which companies manage internet users’ personal details. The expected changes could have major implications for giants like Google and Facebook.

Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission, declared in a speech on Sunday that the new data protection law was necessary for the protection of users, and for the reduction of administrative formalities for companies in Europe. “Consumers will only entrust their details to companies if they are protected”, she declared, at the DLD technology industry conference in Munich. But Mrs. Reding also underlined the need to simplify Europe’s approach towards online data protection, stating that Europe has “too many rules and too many conflicting rules” which cost companies 2.3 billion euros each year.

According to the proposal obtained by Reuters, the EU proposals considerably reinforce regulatory powers in the case of breaches of security, and include new rights for individuals such as the “right to be forgotten,” which would allow people to request that their data be completely erased. The laws also create a “right to the portability of personal details” between various companies or services.

These laws could affect social networks and oblige them to change the way they handle user details. Facebook warns against an overly-restrictive framework which “would hinder the development of innovative services”.

The legislative process is likely to take at least two years, because of the many reservations of countries facing this European intervention, in this sensitive area. Internet-based companies will not be required to conform until 2014 or 2015.