EU privacy law would force Facebook to delete data on request

MALMO, Sweden — On Wednesday, the European Union will propose tough new privacy legislation, which will give internet users the right to demand that companies like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn provide them with details of any data they hold on them, and then delete it if requested.

More from GlobalPost: Facebook to seek $10 billion IPO in 2012

 This so-called “right to be forgotten”, was spelled out by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, as she gave new details of the coming overhaul of the European Union’s Data Protection Directive, which dates back to 1995.

 “I will include easier access to one’s own data in the new rules,” she told the Digital Life Design conference in Munich on Wednesday.

“People must be able to easily take their data to another provider, or have it deleted if they no longer want it to be used,” John Phelan, a spokesman for the European Consumers’ Association, said it was essential that the new directive was applied to American companies operating in Europe, something which has not always been the case with the 1995 law.

More from GlobalPost: Microsoft to buy Nokia smartphone division

“We want to see companies operating in European being held to European standards,” he said, adding that consumers should also be alerted if their data is inadvertently leaked.

“Notification to the authorities should occur as soon as the breach has been identified, at the latest within one week, and should include all relevant information,” he said.

More from GlobalPost: Top 1% of mobile internet users consume 50% of world's data

The directive has already generated complaints from internet and computing companies.

“We are concerned that these proposals may be too prescriptive,” Ron Zink, Microsoft Europe’s chief operating officer, told the Financial Times.

But Reding argues that the directive could reduce the administrative burden on companies by as much as $3 billion a year, by harmonizing data regulations across the 27 EU member states.

More from GlobalPost: Does Facebook and social media change your brain?

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.