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EU privacy law would force Facebook to delete data on request

Microsoft complains new "right to be forgotten" law is "too prescriptive."

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EU floats online “right to be forgotten." This photo taken Dec. 14, 2010 shows a map on a page from the Facebook social network site.The map displays friendships as lights on a deep blue background. The eastern half of the United States and Europe shine the brightest, while China, Russia and central Africa, where Facebook has little presence, are mainly dark. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

MALMO, Sweden — On Wednesday, the European Union will propose tough new privacy legislation, which will give internet users the right to demand that companies like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn provide them with details of any data they hold on them, and then delete it if requested.

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 This so-called “right to be forgotten”, was spelled out by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, as she gave new details of the coming overhaul of the European Union’s Data Protection Directive, which dates back to 1995.

 “I will include easier access to one’s own data in the new rules,” she told the Digital Life Design conference in Munich on Wednesday.

“People must be able to easily take their data to another provider, or have it deleted if they no longer want it to be used,” John Phelan, a spokesman for the European Consumers’ Association, said it was essential that the new directive was applied to American companies operating in Europe, something which has not always been the case with the 1995 law.

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“We want to see companies operating in European being held to European standards,” he said, adding that consumers should also be alerted if their data is inadvertently leaked.

“Notification to the authorities should occur as soon as the breach has been identified, at the latest within one week, and should include all relevant information,” he said.

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The directive has already generated complaints from internet and computing companies.

“We are concerned that these proposals may be too prescriptive,” Ron Zink, Microsoft Europe’s chief operating officer, told the Financial Times.

But Reding argues that the directive could reduce the administrative burden on companies by as much as $3 billion a year, by harmonizing data regulations across the 27 EU member states.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120123/eu-privacy-law-would-force-facebook-delete-data-request