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    Reuters: Internet privacy and the “right to be forgotten”

    Reuters discusses the issue of the “right to be forgotten,” which is being debated in the European Union:

    When it comes to privacy, the Internet has long been something of a Wild West but that that is starting to change, with regulators in Europe and the United States beginning to pull in the reins. On both sides of the Atlantic, officials are scrutinizing how companies such as Facebook and Google handle users’ personal data, as they draw up plans to protect surfers while ensuring the growth of rapidly expanding social media, search engine and other Web-based businesses.

    In the first sign of where Europe may be headed with its privacy regulations, the European Union announced this week that social networking sites and search engines could face court action if they fail to obey new EU data privacy rules.

    Under proposals to be fleshed out in the coming months and that will update 16-year-old data-protection laws, the European Commission wants to force companies holding data to allow users to withdraw it from websites, calling it the “right to be forgotten.” Companies would also have to provide more information on what data they have collected from people and why. […]

    Europe and the United States have traditionally differed on privacy issues, with the EU taking a stronger regulatory approach and U.S. officials more mindful of the need to balance entrepreneurship and business demands with data protection.

    But in recent weeks, as U.S. privacy experts have visited Brussels to try to close the gaps between the two regulatory frameworks, officials have emphasized how closely they are working together to come up with a common set of standards. […]

    The right to be forgotten is also a concept that goes against the grain for U.S. regulators, who favor a broader definition of freedom of information. […]

    Some companies, such as Microsoft, support the effort by the European Union and the United States to align their policies, saying it will result in clearer, more uniform rules.

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