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Tougher EU data protection laws likely to create 'right to be forgotten'

Plans to reform European Union (EU) data protection rules to include the "right to be forgotten" will affect social network sites and search engines.

Plans to reform European Union (EU) data protection rules to include the "right to be forgotten" will affect social network sites and search engines such as Google and Facebook, according to the European Commission (EC).

Speaking to the European Parliament about the review of the EU data protection framework, justice commissioner Viviane Reding said she hopes new laws will include the "right to be forgotten", which gives individuals power to withdraw consent to data processing.

Reding says new technology has made it more difficult to detect when personal data is being collected, requiring greater safeguards for individuals.

This means EU laws could impact US-based social networking sites, like Facebook. "A US-based social network company that has millions of active users in Europe needs to comply with EU rules," said Reding.

She believes recent concerns over Google Street View's use of data reinforces the need for uniform data protection legislation across Europe.

"Concerns in many EU member states related to online mapping services including pictures of streets and people's homes. A more co-ordinated approach at EU level is needed to address such cases in a consistent and effective way," said Reding.

She outlined four principles the EC is seeking to enshrine in law, including the right to be forgotten, greater transparency, default privacy settings and protection regardless of data location. Data collection rules could also be extended to police authorities.

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