Businesses Lose Sleep Over New EU Privacy Proposals

Author:Mr David Flint and Valerie Surgenor

The European Commission is set to announce its proposals for new European Union privacy rules on Wednesday. Businesses are anticipating major changes concerning the way in which personal information is managed and some have expressed fears that the proposals may be too strict.

The present regulations have been in place since 1995 and the revisions are expected to harmonise the privacy rules across the EU's 27 member states. Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has proposed that users will be informed when personal data concerning them is being gathered; the reason behind this; as well as the period of time for which the information will be kept. Further features of the new rules include the so called "right to be forgotten" which will enable individuals in most cases to ask for data stored about them to be deleted; this strengthens the concept of "data minimisation" in the existing Directive. Companies will also be required to inform data protection authorities if there is a data breach, within 24 hours of an incident occurring.

Major technology companies Facebook and Google, who are likely to be most affected by the new laws, are on tenterhooks about the rules. However, it is not just large corporations who will be subject to the rules; every company which deals with personal data (for example in a database or in lists) will be required to take notice of the changes. Those who fail to do so are expected to face big fines. In fact, a draft of the new EU rules has indicated that companies may have to pay up to two percent of their worldwide...

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