EU lawmakers seek to limit use of data by internet firms

Wed Jan 9, 2013 4:42am EST
 
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By Claire Davenport

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Internet companies such as Facebook and Google may have to get more permission to use information if European Union lawmakers give users more control over their personal data.

EU lawmakers want to limit companies' ability to use and sell data, such as internet browsing habits, to advertising companies, especially when people are unaware their data is being used in such a way.

"Users must be informed about what happens with their data," said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Member of the European Parliament who is driving the reform. "And they must be able to consciously agree to data processing - or reject it."

Facebook and Google, who were among the first to profit from users' data, have been lobbying against the curbs. Other data-reliant sectors such as health services, rail and smart-meter makers have also voiced concerns.

Albrecht, a Green politician, plans to announce on Wednesday a plan to make sure users of search engines and social networks can control how much of their data is sold to advertisers.

A report he produced, which was seen by Reuters, builds on a proposal announced by the European Commission last January for tougher data protection.

The European Parliament, the Commission and the bloc's 27 countries will seek an agreement on the rules in coming months.

Internet companies worry it will have a chilling effect on a thriving business.   Continued...

 
A security personnel answers a call at the reception counter of the Google office in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad February 6, 2012. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder