BRUSSELS - Last week, the European Commission announced plans for comprehensive new laws that have in their sights the massively popular website.
The commission is concerned that its existing rules on data protection date back to 1995, the very early days of what was at the time called the "information superhighway" and are extraordinarily out of date. Brussels is not just worried that the internet has sped ahead of its regulatory grasp, but also that many technologies, in particular Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), behavioural advertising and even airport security devices have proceeded apace, leaving EU legislation in the lurch.
The commission on Thursday, also the continents official Data Protection Day, "warned that data protection rules must be updated to keep abreast of technological change to ensure the right to privacy."
Underscoring its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty and the legal basis given to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the commission said it wants to create "a clear, modern set of rules" guaranteeing a high level of personal data protection and privacy.
Earlier legislation was also limited in that it was restricted to issues concerning the European Community - the so-called first pillar of the EU, but not foreign policy or policing and judicial affairs - the second and third pillars.
Mentioning Facebook, Myspace and Twitter by name, Reding said she will start this year with a revision of the 1995 Data Protection Directive, in a speech that outlined the main principles and goals of her upcoming work as Europes top fundamental rights watchdog. It is clear that privacy issues are at the forefront of her ambitions.
"Innovation is important in todays society but should not go at the expense of peoples fundamental right to privacy," she said.
"Whether we want it or not, almost every day we share personal data about ourselves. These data are collected, processed and then stored out of our sight. By booking a flight ticket, transferring money, applying for a job or just using the Internet we are exposing our private lives to others. Sometimes it is necessary," she continued. "Data are being collected without our consent and often without our knowledge. This is where European law comes in."
She said that people should have the right "to say no ...whenever they want."
Saturday, 30. January 2010 at 23:10
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