2012


European Regulator Warns Silicon Valley About Privacy

The New York Times

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/european-regulator-warns-siliconvalley-about-privacy/

The European data protection supervisor, Peter Hustinx, on Thursday urged technology companies to “innovate” in the area of consumer privacy, saying that lawmakers on the continent would press ahead on a contentious proposed law that would, in part, compel companies to pare down the personal data kept in their digital vaults.

“It really is based on the idea that when there is not good enough reason to keep the data, it should be deleted,” Mr. Hustinx told a conference on digital privacy, sponsored by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, which is part of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

“When data have been published or have been shared and it is within your power to get them back, you have to make reasonable effort to get the spirit back in the bottle,”he said.

The European Commission proposed earlier this year a wide ranging new law designed to protect personal data online. It has met with strong resistance from some Silicon Valley companies on the grounds that it would be costly, logistically difficult and a hindrance to innovation. One of the most contested parts of the law, known as the right to be forgotten, would allow consumers to demand that personal data, from shopping records to photographs, be deleted forever.

The proposed E.U. law would impose stiff fines on companies that break the law.

The daylong privacy conference repeatedly raised the question of the value of privacy, with Michael Hintze, a lawyer for Microsoft, pointing out that despite privacy flaps at companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, no company seems to have lost market share as a result. “A company may get bad press on privacy but large numbers of its customers aren’t leaving in droves,” he said.

Mr. Hustinx was undeterred. “It is true that people behave sometimes in a different manner,” he said. “But we get continued, strong feedback for stronger protection.” 4/26/2012