The European Union has taken a big step toward adopting a single set of privacy regulations that could drastically alter the operations of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and tens of thousands of other companies. If adopted, the rules would mean a standardized protocol for handling personal data inside Europe that’s far more stringent than anything the United States or Canada has to offer.
According to The Guardian’s Samuel Gibbs, the regulations include provisions that allow users to sue companies that aggregate data (including cloud storage providers like Amazon and Dropbox), along with rules that require unambiguous consent to data collection and web cookies, and a much-strengthened “right to be forgotten” by search engines. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other tech companies lobbied against these regulations when they were first proposed several years ago.
In comment, Latvian justice minister Dzintars Rasnacs added, “Today we have moved a great step closer to modernised and harmonised data protection framework for the European Union…. The new data protection regulation, adapted to the needs of the digital age, will strengthen individual rights of our citizens and ensure a high standard of protection.”
The proposed new regulations will be brought before the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission next week for negotiating and evaluating. While extremely citizen- and customer-friendly, the regulations could spell out vastly increased costs for tech companies, as well as hard limits on the amounts of data they can collect on their users.