NEWS8 November 2011

Commissioner wants ‘explicit consent’ for data use throughout EU

Europe Government

BRUSSELS— EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding wants European data protection laws to be updated to require companies to get the explicit consent of consumers before their data is used.

In a joint statement made yesterday with the German federal minister for consumer protection, Reding said consumers should also have the right to delete their data at any time, “especially the data they post on the internet themselves”.

Reding was speaking after a meeting with Germany’s Ilse Aigner to discuss ways of strengthening EU data protection rules, which date back to 1995.

The Commission pointed to recent Eurobarometer research which suggested that 70% of Europeans are concerned about how companies use their data and the limited control they as individuals have over it.

“We believe consumers must be more empowered than they are today,” said Reding and Aigner. “Users should be in control of their data.”

Strengthened EU rules should also apply to companies who direct their services to the European market, the duo said: “Otherwise, they should not be able to do business on our internal market.

“This also applies to social networks with users in the EU. We have to make sure that they comply with EU law and that EU law is enforced, even if it is based in a third country and even if its data is stored in a ‘cloud’.”

From May, prior consent will be required for any website wishing to place a cookie on a web user’s computer, according to an interpretation of the e-Privacy Directive being pushed by EU data protection watchdogs.

But Reding’s comments also raise questions for research standards setting bodies such as Esomar, who’s recently formulated guidelines for social media research settle on a form of implied consent – where permission to pass on information that could be used to identify an individual could be implied in the terms of use of the site or online service in question.


1 Comment

13 years ago

Looks like a business opportunity to me. If 70% of consumers are worried about their data I think the market place will throw up ways of customers paying someone to chase down data about them and delete it to ensure they are forgotten if that's what they are prepared to pay for. But they'll need politicians to set a legal framework to ensure you can force data holders to delete it if that's what consumers want. Too difficult for Ed Vasey? One wonders why and who's lobbying him.

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