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    New York Times: E.U. to Tighten Web Privacy Law, Risking Trans-Atlantic Dispute

    The New York Times reports on privacy-protection proposals by the European Union:

    The European Commission is planning a legal change next year that may prompt U.S. Web giants like Google and Facebook to rethink how they store and process consumer data, raising the prospect of a trans-Atlantic dispute over Internet privacy.

    The European justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, said she planned to insert wording into a revision of the Continent’s main data privacy law that would require non-E.U. companies to abide by Europe’s stricter rules on data collection or face fines and prosecution. […]

    [Reding] intends to add the tougher sanctions to Europe’s revised Data Protection Directive, which she expects to present in January.

    The European law gives individuals more control over the use of data they enter on free Web services, but it has not been revised since 1995, when the Internet was still in its infancy. […]

    Her proposal is likely to attempt to limit the range of personal information that Web businesses can retain on individuals, as well as enshrine a so-called “right to be forgotten” in E.U. law, giving users the right to remove personal data from Web businesses’ servers.

    But one legal expert was skeptical that Europe, even if it did formally adopt tougher sanctions, could enforce a stricter privacy regime on U.S.-based companies. […]

    The revisions to Europe’s privacy law are being followed by Google, Facebook and other companies whose businesses rely in part on harvesting the data that users enter into the free services. The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, a business group, submitted a 42-page brief to European lawmakers this year that argued against enacting undue data privacy restrictions that could inhibit the free flow of information.

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