Data protection legislation was approved by an EU Parliament committee this week.

Extensive data protection legislation approved by EU

Stephen Perkins

Members of a European Union Parliament committee voted this week in favor of extensive new data protection laws designed to insulate and secure private citizens' communications from spying eyes.

The draft legislation, which was approved by a 49-3 measure, aims at addressing far-reaching concerns of data security and online privacy for nearly 500 million Europeans following revelations of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance scandal. Ironically, on the same day the French newspaper Le Monde, published an article that alleged the NSA appropriated $652 million in funding for a program that developed "spy implants," which reportedly hacked tens of millions of computers in France.

While the newly approved legislation will require several more months of negotiations with the EU's 28 member states, it marks the first time in 18 years that Europe has altered its data privacy regulations. The new law would prevent companies from sharing citizens' data with authorities in other countries unless it's explicitly approved by the EU or international treaties.

Among other things, the legislation would allow users to request that companies completely erase personal information, or the "right to be forgotten" clause; require organizations to explain reasons for using customer data and force most businesses to establish or hire data protection personnel to ensure the regulations are implemented. Additionally, companies that fail to comply could face fines up to five percent of their annual revenue.

Many critics of the proposed law cite that compliance regulations will overwhelm businesses, as well as existing loopholes that could cancel out the legislation's intended effects. Some officials, particularly in France, believe the draft is not tough enough, according to the BBC. Regardless of its flaws, the ruling highlights a global mood swing with regard to data protection and its level of importance in the age of big data.

Categories: Data Protection