Google and Facebook won’t be happy with strict new EU rules on online user data to be announced on Wednesday.
The European Union is cracking down on how corporations deal with personal data by Internet users. This means that social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+, which have nearly a billion users in total, could face difficult times in clarifying who owns what data and how it is processed, stored and used. The new legislation will replace the EU Data Protection Directive which companies have been operating under for 13 years.
The Data Protection Directive, is a EU legislative act focused on protecting Individuals in the area of processing and free movement of personal data. It currently states in Article 14 that users have the ability to deny data from being used for direct marketing or given to third parties:
"Object, on request and free of charge, to the processing of personal data relating to him which the controller anticipates being processed for the purposes of direct marketing, or to be informed before personal data are disclosed for the first time to third parties or used on their behalf for the purposes of direct marketing, and to be expressly offered the right to object free of charge to such disclosures or uses."
Enforcement of stipulations like Article 14 will be beneficial for individual users of social networking sites, but the companies behind the sites themselves may take a real hit, as this user data is what makes social networking so attractive for marketers and advertisers. Companies found to be breaking the laws could face fines in the billions of Euros.
The new rules would also make it mandatory for immediate notification and transparency of security breaches, such as the Playstation network outage last year which saw the credit card details of 1000s of users hacked.
"Companies that suffer a data leak must inform the data protection authorities and the individuals concerned, and they must do so without undue delay."
The process may take nearly two years according to Reuters, so certain stipulations may change significantly before the rules take effect. As of now, companies are not required to comply before 2015.
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