EU declares war on social sites guilty of privacy invasion

14 Apr 2009

EU information society and media Commissioner Viviane Reding has warned EU citizens to be aware that social network businesses are profiling them on the web by tracking their searches, pages browsed and purchases made, and using the information to target them with advertising.

Reding said today that serious privacy issues are at stake, and the Commission is ready to take action and enforce greater online citizen privacy, if national governments fail to tighten rules on data usage and profiling icon: launch video.

“Europeans must have the right to control how their personal information is used,” said Reding, announcing several areas in which the Commission is ready to act to maintain this right, as technology trends make it easier to use, and misuse, personal information.

She warned that the EU would take action where member states fail to implement EU rules ensuring privacy and the need for a person’s consent before processing his or her personal data.

“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,” said Reding.

The Commissioner also called on social-networking companies to reinforce privacy protection online.

“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,” Reding warned.

By John Kennedy