Commentary

Right-To-Delete Law Moves Forward In Europe

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted today in favor of sweeping new privacy regulations that could impose new obligations on Web companies.

One key provision of the measure that moved forward today gives consumers the right to delete prior material they have posted, including tweets, Facebook photos and the like. Consumers  could potentially even have the legal right to delete reviews they've posted on sites like Ripoff Report, which currently has a policy prohibiting deletions. (It's not completely clear that review sites would be required to delete posts, because the law has an exception for material in the public interest.)

Another component stems from revelations in June that the National Security Agency obtained a trove of personal data from Web companies. The proposal that cleared today would prohibit Yahoo, Google, Facebook or any other company from giving information about EU citizens to officials of other governments, unless a European law or treaty authorizes sharing that data.

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Companies that violate the proposed law could face fines of up to 5% of their annual revenue.

The measure hasn't yet been accepted by the EU -- which means that the final law might not be as sweeping as the proposal approved today. Web companies -- many of which lobbied against the proposal -- are expected to campaign to scale back the terms.

Still, some privacy advocates cheered today's vote. “This evening's vote is a breakthrough for data protection in Europe and would overhaul EU rules, ensuring they are up to the task of the challenges in the digital age,” European data protection regulation official Jan Philipp Albrecht said in a statement. “This legislation introduces overarching EU rules on data protection, replacing the current patchwork of national laws, and a clear majority ... has tonight voted to ensure it delivers a high level of protection for EU citizens.”

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, adds that the vote is a “historic development for privacy in the 21st Century.”

2 comments about "Right-To-Delete Law Moves Forward In Europe".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, October 21, 2013 at 8:09 p.m.

    I wonder what effect this proposed rule will have on the recent opt-in notice sent out, asking web users if they wanted to retroactively switch everything they've ever posted from screen-names to their real names?

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 22, 2013 at 6:53 a.m.

    It's called "right to erasure". I don't expect this to have much effect, because it's, "dependent upon the ability of the data controller to verify that the person requesting the erasure is the data subject", and I don't see many people being willing to go through the hassle of proving their identity to lots of Websites. Also there's an exception for "historical, statistical and scientific research purposes" which seem like the main reasons why you would keep marketing data long-term.

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