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Europe Prepares to Tackle Online Privacy Issues
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online privacy

Summary: Later this month Europe will be passing a new law regarding how online privacy is managed, placing strict rules on companies to follow.

May 25 marks the big day in Europe where online privacy will see drastic changes. The European Union is enacting the General Data Protection Regulation, which will give internet users more control over the data that is collected and shared about them. Companies that do not comply with what will be the toughest online privacy rules in the world will be punished, according to The New York Times.

  
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The new regulation is more than just a guideline. There are strict consequences for organizations that do not follow the rules, even a fine of up to four percent of their global revenue, which for Facebook would up around $1.6 billion.

As online privacy has become a hot topic with the recent discoveries of data being collected without a user’s knowledge. The recent scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has put everyone on edge, wondering what of their data has been collected and how they can better safeguard their information. Europe intends to address these issues and others as they aim to keep their citizen’s data private.

Since the new law has not yet been put into action, its effectiveness is not yet known but other countries across the globe are anxious to see how things pan out. It is expected that the biggest effect will be on how companies operate online but users will not experience much change. This is especially true for say an American if they were to travel to Europe.

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For those living in one of the 28 countries included in the European Union, the biggest difference seen will be the lack of shoe or appliance ads popping up as you surf the internet after doing some online shopping.

The new regulation will make it harder for ad-targeting companies to collect and sell information. It also requires companies to be transparent about how they handle a user’s data, requiring them to receive permission from the user before they can use it. The legal bar has been raised for companies to get over in order to use target ads based on personal information. This will likely mean that companies go back to broader advertisements, much like what you find in magazines and television. Companies will not have the details of the user to cater ads to.



Users will now have the right to directly ask companies, including banks, retailers, grocery stores, and more, what information they have about you and can request for that information to be deleted. If a user feels that their data is being misused or collected without merit, they can go to the national data protection regulator to investigate. Each country will have its own data-protection agency.

The regulation has 11 chapters and 99 sub-articles, making for quite an undertaking for a typical person. The International Association of Privacy Professionals explains that just starting a case against a company could take up to 20 steps. Luckily, users are able to come together and file class-action style complaints against a company, something that is not very common in Europe. Privacy groups are already working to prepare cases to be filed on behalf of groups of individuals. Their hope is that after a few lawsuits successfully go through, companies will actually fix how they handle personal data.

Another big part of the new law is that users cannot be locked into any service. This means that once you download your data, you have the right to move to a competitor. For example, you can move your Spotify playlists to another streaming service.

In order to prepare for the new law, companies have been hard at work updating their privacy policies. Terms and conditions must be written plainly in language that those who are not lawyers can understand. There will be options to block information from being gathered.

As the law becomes active and the immediate local effects become more clear, the effects on the rest of the world will likely be noticed as well, especially for law firms tasked with handling cases involving online privacy matters.

Do you think that most people really care how their data is being used? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about online privacy, read these articles:

Photo: flickr.com



 

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