The European Commission has recommended updating privacy laws to make it easier for citizens to delete private data, including photos, from the Internet.
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The recommendations form part the EC's strategy to strengthen EU data protection rules.
The EC wants to force companies like Google to get users' permission before using their uploaded content and strengthen penalties for websites and companies that violate laws, in the first major revamp of European privacy law in 15 years.
In an attempt to stop organisations using private data to sell advertising, the EC also wants businesses to inform consumers about what information is collected, for what reasons, how long it is held, and what their rights are if they want to access, rectify, or delete their data.
Viviane Reding, EU justice minister, said that the protection of personal data is a fundamental right. "To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data protection rules. We also need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalisation," she said.
Reding said the EC will put forward legislation next year to strengthen individuals' rights, while also ensuring the free flow of data within the EU.
The EC plans to synchronise legislation across all 27 members of the EU, cutting the red tape for businesses and law enforcement.
A revised EU privacy directive is scheduled to go into effect in 2011, after a period of public consultation through the EC's website in January.