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Privacy must be a priority in digital age

Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding has followed up the forthright comments on privacy last week from Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. In a video message she makes the following comments:

“European privacy rules are crystal clear: a person’s information can only be used with their prior consent. We cannot give up this basic principle, and have all our exchanges monitored, surveyed and stored in exchange for a promise of ‘more relevant’ advertising! I will not shy away from taking action where an EU country falls short of this duty.”

Reding added that RFID chips would work only “if they are used by the consumer and not on the consumer. No European should carry a chip in one of their possessions without being informed precisely what they are used for, with the choice to remove or switch it off at any time.”

Mrs Reding also is concerned by social network sites:

“Privacy must in my view be a high priority for social networking providers and their users. I firmly believe that at least the profiles of minors must be private by default and unavailable to internet search engines. The European Commission has already called on social networking sites to deal with minors’ profiles carefully, by means of self-regulation. I am ready to follow this up with new rules if I have to.”

To round off this flurry of activity, the Commission launched the first phase of proceedings against the UK for “several problems with the UK’s implementation of EU ePrivacy and personal data protection rules, under which EU countries must ensure, among other things, the confidentiality of communications by prohibiting interception and surveillance without the user’s consent.” The UK now has two months to respond, before potentially being taken to the European Court of Justice.

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