Tech firms told to obey new EU data protection law
Technology firms such as Google, Facebook and Apple, which offer services in the European Union, have been told they must abide by new EU data-protection rules.
In a move that may have wide implications for the data regulator in Ireland, European Commissioner Viviane Reding said companies from non-European countries that operate within the EU should face uniform rules on data protection across the common market.
About 30 data watchdogs are currently pushing the likes of Google and Yahoo to limit how long they retain customer data.
Those bodies all have different levels of statutory power.
Under a new plan, EU watchdogs will be able to fine companies as much as 2pc of yearly global sales for "intentionally or negligently" violating the rules. Included are also plans to create a harmonised approach by the separate watchdogs.
The same limits have to apply to all companies that do business in the 27-nation area, Ms Reding said in Brussels.
Ms Reding presented plans in January 2012 to entirely reform the data-protection rules that apply to all member states.
She has insisted that the rules, once they receive backing by EU lawmakers and ministers and can be enforced, would also apply to US companies.
The new protections would "refresh" an existing EU data-protection law which dates back to 1995, she claimed.
Google and Microsoft were among companies to warn the EU in 2011 against "overly strict" data-privacy curbs.
Ms Reding said she won't accept any attempts to water down the proposed rules.