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EU to guarantee right to be 'forgotten' online

The European Commission has promised to guarantee users the right to be "forgotten" on the internet when their data is no longer needed.

"The protection of personal data is a fundamental right," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in a statement.

Commissioners plan to place strict limits on the collection and use of personal data in a forthcoming review of data protection laws. A consultation document published today promises consumers transparent notification as to how, why, by whom, and for how long their data could be used.

"People should be able to give their informed consent to the processing of their personal data," said Commissioners. "They should have the 'right to be forgotten' when their data is no longer needed or they want their data to be deleted."

"To guarantee this right," said Reding, "we need clear and consistent data protection rules. We also need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalisation.

"The Commission will put forward legislation next year to strengthen individuals' rights, while also removing red tape to ensure the free flow of data within the EU's single market."

Commissioners also plan to look at how data is dealt with by law enforcement agencies, and are set to review the enforcement of data protection legislation by watchdogs in member states.

The UK Information Commissioner's Office came under fire this week after finding advertising giant Google guilty of illegally collecting WiFi data, but failing to impose any financial penalty.

The ICO won the right to impose fines of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of data protection law in April this year.

To offer your views on data protection to the European Commission, visit here.