EU gets tough on data protection

The European Union has agreed upon a set of new data protection rules, aimed at protecting European’s security, privacy and data. The new rules are being hailed as the biggest changes in two decades, and they are likely to have a significant impact on business throughout the continent.

In essence the rules are intended to give European’s greater control on how their data is collected and used, whilst also giving regulators greater powers to ensure that companies abide by the rules. Regulators will be able to fine companies that do not abide with these new rules, however it is not entirely bad news for business.

The new regulations will actually help business in some circumstances as they unify the data protection rules across all the EU member states. From now on businesses will only have to comply with one set of regulations rather than have to juggle between each individual member states own governance. This alone could save businesses over £1.6 billion every year.

Furthermore, non-European companies will also have to comply with the new rules if they wish to do business within the European community. Also, companies operating in the EU will be obliged to report any serious security breaches. As a strong message of intent, the EU state that failure to comply with these new rules could result in fines of up to 4 per ceny of global turnover! As an example Apple’s turnover of $234 billion would result in a fine of almost $10 billion.

For the European individual the main advantage is that the rules uphold the law of “Right to be Forgotten” which means citizens can demand a website to delete all information about them if they close their account or simply if they do not wish to be tracked by online marketers or Google search.

In addition the digital “Age of Consent” has been raised to 16, this means that anyone 15 or younger must have the consent of their parents to sign up for websites or online apps.

Google, Snapshot, Twitter and Facebook have lobbied hard against this new rule and they want individual states to have the right to lower the age of consent back to 13. They have two years to lobby as the rules come into effect in 2017.

Image Credit: Flickr/Sébastien Bertrand