Europe Writes Internet Rules to Take Greater Role on the Web

The European Union drafted a new data-privacy policy that it hopes will be adopted around the world. The policy would require companies to include the “right to be forgotten” option so that people could ask for their links to be removed and to ask users for explicit consent to use their personal data. Europe is looking to have more influence on the Web, which is currently dominated by U.S. companies. Representatives from the EU are lobbying other countries to institute the policy.

connectionsThese strict new regulations could be a tough sell for American companies. The New York Times reports, “The rules could include ‘enormously enhanced’ requirements around the processing of personal data, which would ‘require re-engineering of a lot of data-collection processes, apps [and] customer websites.’”

Also, American companies are wary of other regions failing to adopt the policies and putting the U.S. at a disadvantage.

Currently, the Europeans are the ones who feel like they are at a disadvantage. “Americans are in the lead. They have the data, the business models and the power,” Günther Oettinger, the European Commission member in charge of the digital economy, said. “They come along with their electronic vacuum cleaner and suck up all the data, take it back to California, process it and sell it as a service for money.”

He warned American companies that they may face fines of $125 million or 5 percent of their global revenue, whichever is higher, if they violate rules about the use of individuals’ data.

American companies could also get thrown out of the European market if they continue to disregard the regulations. This is just one part of a larger effort by Europe. The region is revamping data protection laws, copyright laws, and sales taxes so that digital companies can expand to serve all of Europe more easily.

The EU is lobbying several countries to institute the new rules, which will be finalized in May. Japan is likely to follow the European model, but its neighbor China is not. China already has its own strict policies on Internet privacy, according to The Wall Street Journal.