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November 28, 2011

European national laws to be replaced by EU data protection reform

75% of Europeans are worried about how social networking sites use their private information

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Union wants to create one "level playing field" when it comes to data protection, and plans to update laws dating back to 1995, long before Facebook and other social networking sites even existed.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said that presently companies that operate in several member states must comply with different laws and different decisions taken by data protection authorities in 27 member states. She added, "They need… a ‘one- stop-shop’ when it comes to data protection matters–one law and one single data protection authority for each business; that of the member state in which they have their main establishment."

EU regulators said they are concerned about how commercial online services are using customers’ personal to attract advertisers and added they want to make sure that their internet privacy rights are respected.

EU officials expect the draft legislation for this to be ready by early next year, which could take up to 18 months for the bill to become law.

Before that, the EU has resolve differences existing between its members over privacy issues. While countries like France and Germany favour stronger protections for privacy, Ireland, Britain and others prefer more lenient rules.

A Eurobarometer survey this summer found that 75% of Europeans are worried about how social networking sites use their private information.

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