With the recent debacle with Greece and the images of the Greek nation being bullied by the more wealth
y states in Europe It can seem that the EU is becoming a community where the wealthy countries tell the less wealthy how to live. But this is only one side.
On the other hand without the EU and the collective bargaining power it provides , there would be little to protect individuals from the harvesting of their personal information for commercial gain by companies.
The EU is to the fore in Data Protection and it is their intention to continue in that vein by recognising the right to ownership of personal data they are working to protect citizens rights to have control over how much of their personal information is shared by others..
People mostly unaware of how their personal information, communications and other items are being stored categorised and in some cases marketed for profit by technology companies.
It seems to be broadly accepted that social networking sites and other technology companies gather and use people’s personal information and activity on their sites to profile individuals and then sell this information to advertisers. In another time this would be called spying on a person.
Google’s claim that ” We collect information to provide better services to all of our users” has echoes of a certain wolf speaking to a little girl in a red cloak. They are using personal information, in many cases, without the owner being aware.
Three quarters of Europeans think that the disclosure of personal data is an increasing part of modern life. At the same time, 72% of internet users are worried that they give away too much personal data online. People feel they do not have complete control of their data
This is where the EU is at its best. The Commission is proposing a strengthened right to be forgotten so that if you no longer want your personal data to be processed, and there is no legitimate reason for an organisation to keep it, it must be removed from their system.
The onus of proof is being shifted from us the users to the companies who are collecting the data. Data controllers e.g. Facebook and Google must prove that they need to keep the data rather than you having to prove that collecting your data is not necessary. Providers must take account of the principle of ‘privacy by default’, which means that the default settings should be those that provide the most privacy.
Companies will be obliged to inform you as clearly, understandably and transparently as possible about how your personal data will be used, so that you are in the best position to decide what data you share.
They will also make sure that when users give their consent for companies to use their personal data, that agreement is given explicitly and with their full awareness. This will give users control over their data, and help foster trust in the online environment.
To me, this is a welcome and necessary development.