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If you are reading this post than you are likely a member of some social network like facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, or xing and might even on occasion indulge in some e-shopping? Well the personal data you offer when joining those sites or making purchases, will likely become a lot safer with the passage of the new EU Data Protection Regulation.
Although just a proposal at the moment (released in January), this regulation seems to have been decades in the making. The goal of this proposal is to establish one stringent comprehensive law that allows information to flow freely and safely throughout the EU. In doing so, the responsible EU-Commissioner, Vivane Reding, wants to give more control to the individual and eliminate the inconsistencies between the different regulations of the 27 Member States. An intended side effect of the harmonisation will be a strengthening of the EU as a single economic area against other trading blocs.
This proposal will likely make e-commerce and IT business much easier and safer, but will also force businesses to shoulder the costs of changing data protection policies. And the consequences of failing to fall in line with the regulation? Hefty fines of up to 2% of global turnover.
The international impact of the regulation is also tremendously significant: ANY company that does business within the EU (for instance, handles the private data of EU citizens) will also be held accountable under the regulation: large or small, you must change your policies to accommodate EU law. This is what prompted many, with lobbyists in tow, to descend upon Brussels earlier in the year.
In addition, the new regulation will also force significant changes in the EU-US Safe Harbor agreement, which up until now has offered a more streamlined process for US companies to engage in business within the EU.
It is now clear that the end is near: the new regulation will make every company accountable for every bit of regulation: you can’t run, and you can’t hide.