Data Protection legislation European Union
But the virtual tracks left by users on the Web aren't bound by national borders. They have long since become a sought-after commodity, used by global Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon to rack up billions of dollars in revenue. Who clicks where, which products are bought, how long a person stays on which website: It's all summarized in user movement profiles.
There's a market for such knowledge, especially when it comes to individually tailored online advertising. Commercial data collectors have been enjoying a sort of gold rush for some time now, though they're not alone.
The spying scandal involving the US National Security Agency (NSA) has shown how intelligence agencies have been using ever more sophisticated search algorithms to dig for information. Reding has long warned against the danger of "transparent EU citizens, " and she has called the Snowden affair a wake-up call for the EU. After the setback in Athens, Reding may have been heartened by the March 12 vote in the European Parliament when MEPs overwhelmingly passed a new data protection regulation. However, the individual EU states must still give the amendment a green light before it becomes law.
But that could take some time. For the moment, the massively controversial project is mired in a morass of conflicting interests, as a number of EU countries aren't willing to allow Brussels to dictate their data protection policies.
Germany, for example, is concerned that its privacy legislation could be diluted or replaced entirely. The UK, meanwhile, has been slamming on the brakes over fears that investors will take flight if privacy rules are tightened. German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, the European Parliament's rapporteur for the proposed data protection reform, has even accused the responsible ministers of "refusing to work."
Intelligence services have been gathering reams of data from individuals all over the world
But despite months of negotiations and having considered all requests for changes, the Council of the European Union has still not come up with a joint position on the matter.
"Above all, this is because a small minority of member states has blocked an agreement and doesn't want a vote. Unfortunately, Germany is in that group, " said Albrecht.
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European Data Protection Law: Corporate Regulation and Compliance
Book (Oxford University Press)
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Data Protection: A Practical Guide to UK and EU Law
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Online Dispute Resolution for Consumers in the European Union (Routledge Research in Information Technology and E-Commerce Law)
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