updated 08:50 am EST, Wed January 25, 2012
EU makes data protection rights official
The European Commission on Wednesday formally outlined its new data protection rules and touched on Google's own decisions. As hinted earlier, the rules would require plain, explicit permission for data, require data portability between services, and enforce a "right to be forgotten" for those who want to purge their data entirely. If a company saw a breach of information, they had 24 hours in most circumstances to notify both the regulators of affected countries and the European citizens they affected.
If a social network didn't comply, it could be fined as much as two percent of its global yearly revenue. Commission VP Viviane Reding, during a press conference, rejected notions that the penalty had been "watered down" from five percent. Some measures have still been cast as concessions, including one to let bloggers keep some information if they're writing at a personal level as well as to remove liability for scrapping data if an outside party had already leaked that information.
More of the company responsibility would be focused on the most sensitive information; Reding used the example of children's DNA. Those who have complaints about privacy policies wouldn't have to talk to the country where a social network has an office, the official said, likening any local regulator to a "one-stop shop" where any issues could be answered.
Rules are expected to take effect by the end of 2013.
The measures are still likely to trigger some objections from companies like Facebook, which have been reluctant to make data easy to port over and have been hesitant to completely delete a member's account. Mobile services on Android, iOS, and others may also have to implement changes to keep offering their apps within Europe.
Reding did see positive movement through Google's new privacy policies. Although she'd only just received the changes Wednesday and hadn't had time to explore them, she applauded Google for moving in the direction of clearer privacy controls. "Google was quick," she said.