Europe to issue tough new data-protection rules soon
The European Union will propose tough new rules in the coming days on how corporations handle Internet users’ personal data, a long-awaited move that could have far-reaching implications for Web giants such as Google Inc and Facebook.
Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission, said in a speech on Sunday that the new data-protection legislation was needed to protect users and cut red tape for businesses in Europe.
“Only if consumers trust that their data is protected will they entrust companies with it … We need individuals to be in control of their information,” Reding said at the DLD conference of tech industry leaders in Munich.
But Reding also emphasized a need to simplify Europe’s approach to online data protection, arguing that the current system was too cumbersome and costly for business.
“In Europe we have too many rules, conflicting rules,” she said. “The extra cost to business of this fragmentation is 2.3 billion euros ($3 billion) a year.”
Europe’s new data-protection rules are expected to be issued on January 25.
The EU regulation will need to be approved by national governments, some of which, such as France and Germany, may resist seeing their oversight on privacy matters shift to Brussels.
The legislative process is likely to take at least two years, so the rules could still change considerably. Internet companies will not be required to comply before 2014 or 2015.