There has been a fair degree of dissatisfaction with the existing data protection laws available in the EU, and new laws are soon to be drafted. The EU Commissioner, Viviane Reding, used the opportunity to warn Facebook that they “cannot hide anymore”.
Reding, who was in the U.K. recently, has already warned banks that they would be required to notify customers regarding any breach in data security. This instruction will now be valid for all businesses operating in the EU.
The earlier data protection laws, which were written back as in 1995, did not cover the Internet sufficiently, as it was only a fledgling industry then.
However, the Internet has expanded at an unprecedented rate over the years. Popular sites like Facebook and Google and gaming networks like the PlayStation Network have generated huge databases and there have been several instances of these databases being breached of user privacy. The EU commissioner intends to put an end to such breaches.
“Only recently, we witnessed a massive security theft in online gaming services affecting millions of users around the world,” Reding said. “This incident highlights why companies need to reinforce the security of the information they hold. Frequent incidents of data security breaches risk undermining consumers’ trust in the online economy.”
So far, Facebook has not breached any EU laws regarding user privacy, as they are based in the U.S. The new laws will be applicable to all businesses and services operating within the European Union, irrespective of where the company is based.
Viviane Reding has said, “The law is for everyone who does business on the territory of Europe, whatever the origin of the business might be. So you cannot hide anymore by saying ‘I do not have my headquarters in Europe’.”
There will, no doubt be difficulties in implementing these new laws for companies based outside Europe. Any action that needs to be taken, will have to be done through the nearest responsible national data protection authority.