Newspaper article International New York Times

E.U. Poised to Back New Rules on Data Protection ; Far Tougher Regulations Are Intended to Bolster Individual Privacy Rights

Newspaper article International New York Times

E.U. Poised to Back New Rules on Data Protection ; Far Tougher Regulations Are Intended to Bolster Individual Privacy Rights

Article excerpt

The changes under review, which include penalties of up to 4 percent of a company's global revenue, are likely to go into effect by early 2017.

European officials were expected to approve long-awaited data protection regulations late Tuesday, the most recent effort by the bloc to give people a greater say over how their online information is collected and managed.

The changes, expected to go into effect by early 2017, would put into law some policies now in force because of court rulings or only in specific countries that make up the 28-nation European Union. They are intended to bolster privacy rights, which are viewed by the bloc as on a par with freedom of expression.

"Europe's approach to privacy is much stronger than in the United States," said Peter Church, a technology lawyer at Linklaters in London. "There's a fundamental difference in culture when it comes to privacy."

The new rules were the subject of a meeting on Tuesday of representatives from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union; the European Parliament; and member states. The officials have been meeting regularly since the summer to reach a compromise, and an announcement was expected late Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning in Europe.

Among the new policies expected to be approved:

- Allowing national watchdogs to issue fines, potentially totaling the equivalent of millions of dollars, if companies misuse people's online data, including accessing information without individuals' consent.

- Enshrining the right to be forgotten into European law, giving people in the region the right to ask that companies remove data about them that is either no longer relevant or out of date.

- Requiring companies to inform national regulators within three days of any reported data breach, proposals that go significantly further than what is demanded by American authorities.

- Obliging anyone under 16 to obtain parental consent before using popular services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

- Extending the new rules to any company that has customers in the region, even if the company is based outside the European Union.

The tough stance on privacy has often put the European Union at odds with large American tech companies like Google and Facebook, which collect and mine data from social media posts and online search results as part of their digital advertising activity. …

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