The European Union is set to release new, tougher data protection regulations soon. According to Reuters, the impending directive could have a significant impact on businesses, both in the EU and those in other countries that interact with EU citizens. EU Privacy Commissioner Viviane Reding explained:
Only if consumers trust that their data is protected will they entrust companies with it ... We need individuals to be in control of their information.
Among other things, the proposed rules would require companies to inform regulators in the event of a data breach, and would allow EU member states to fine companies 1 percent of their global revenues for violations. The rules create new rights for users whose information is collected, including the right to data portability and a controversial "right to be forgotten." The latter would require companies to completely remove information and stop "disseminating it online" at a user's request.
Facebook is concerned that the rules are too proscriptive. So much so, in fact, that they will not only change the way the companies do business, but they may even hamper continuing innovation on the Internet. Stefan Gross-Selbeck, the CEO of German social network, Xing, told Reuters:
I appreciate the EU commitment to create a level playing field in Europe ... But the regulation that Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg is subject to is nothing compared to what I'm subject to.
Finding the level of regulation necessary to protect users' rights to control their information while at the same time allowing Internet businesses to continue to innovate is the key, and it's a key that will continue to evolve as technology advances.