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    New York Times: A Nudge on Digital Privacy Law From E.U. Official

    The New York Times reports that Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, is urging on changes to a European data privacy law:

    BRUSSELS — The top data protection official for the European Union called Tuesday for member governments to restore public trust in the Internet by pressing ahead with an overhaul of the bloc’s electronic privacy laws by the end of this year.

    The official, Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor, also called on President Obama to stick to his pledge to review American privacy rules in the wake of disclosures that have exposed the vast reach of government surveillance that has shaken trans-Atlantic relations.

    Legislation to revamp European digital privacy law has been in the works since November 2010, when the European Union’s justice commissioner, Vivian Reding, first proposed updating rules set during the mid-1990s in the early part of the Internet era. She presented her version of the legislation in January 2012.

    A separate bill, aimed at providing more equitable access for companies and consumers to the Internet — “net neutrality” — and making mobile phone roaming less costly to consumers is now before the European Parliament, which is to vote on that legislation Thursday. […]

    Last month the European Parliament gave preliminary approval to a strengthened version of Ms. Reding’s rules that would set higher fines and provide stronger bulwarks against demands by countries like the United States for access to data belonging to Europeans. But that version still needs to be reconciled with the views of the European Union’s 28 member governments.

    As it stands, the proposed digital privacy law would establish fines that could run to billions of euros for giant American technology companies like Amazon and eBay if they failed to adhere to rules like limiting the sharing of personal data. Companies like Google and Facebook would also need to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States court warrants seeking private data. […]

    Mr. Hustinx called on the bloc’s 28 member states to reach a deal with one another and with the Parliament by the end of the year, because “the 21st century requires stronger rights, stronger responsibilities, more consistency across Europe.”

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