17 December 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth
Fine Gael Ireland South MEP, Deirdre Clune (from Cork City), has welcomed new EU rules voted upon this week in Strasbourg that will tighten how companies can use people’s data.
The new rules give the consumer incraesed rights over how their personal data is used by banks, social media sites and online providers. Commenting on the new rules, Clune described them as a victory for consumers.
“People do their banking online now. They pay using cards and cover bills with direct debits. That means the bank knows a lot about you, your shopping preferences, your habits, your tastes. Consumers have a right to know what the banks are doing with this information, if they are selling it on. If they are using it to target adverts at you.
“Another area of concern to me is what supermarkets are doing with the information they gleam from your loyalty card. What do they do with this information? I don’t have any real issue with companies using this information for commercial gain, but as long as the customer is aware and complicit in how their data is been processed.
“The new rules also mean that children under-13 will require parental consent when it comes to the processing of their data online. That means they will need parental consent to sign up for sights like Facebook, Twitter and other such social media sites.
“The new EU rules also introduces the “right to be forgotten” where people can request that internet giants delete their data when there is no longer legitimate grounds for retaining it.
“These new data protection laws show that the European Parliament has a significant role to play in protecting consumers and citizens in Europe. Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed.
“The new measures will see firms that deal with consumer data having to appoint a data protection officer. However SMEs will be exempt from this if data processing is not their core business activity. Businesses face sanctions of up to 4 per cent of global turnover under the agreement, meaning that big internet firms could be hit with fines totaling billions for major breaches of the law.
“I expect the new rules to come before a full session of the Parliament for a vote early in 2016. The right to protection of personal data and the needs of the digital economy with regard to data are not incompatible. This reform allows us to succeed in squaring the circle and gives EU businesses a single regulatory framework to deal with.
“We live in a digital age now, and we have to ensure our regulations are up to date. The law in the area has not been updated since 1995 so these new rules are really welcome.”