The European Commission is suggesting changes to existing data protection legislation that could see employers fined up to 2% of their global turnover if they and their workers fail to comply with it.
The proposals, which will now go before the European Parliament and are expected to take as much as two years to come into force, would see companies with 250 or more employees required to appoint a data protection officer. All organisations would also be obliged to report data breaches "as soon as possible". If adopted, the proposals would likewise mean that service users gained easier access to their personal data, while the process of transferring that information from one service to another would be made easier. Where consent was required, employees would explicitly have to ask customers’ permission to handle their data. Users would likewise receive a "right to be forgotten", while being able to force companies to delete their personal data if there was no "legitimate" reason for holding it.
The EU Commission attested that introducing a single set of laws would stop countries from implementing the rules differently as was currently the case, thereby cutting costly administrative burdens and saving firms around €2.3bn (£1.9bn) per year.
Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "The reform will accomplish this, while making life easier and less costly for businesses. A strong, clear and uniform legal framework at EU level will help to unleash the potential of the Digital Single Market and foster economic growth, innovation and job creation." But Mark Pearson, founder of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, warned that the new rules would pose major problems for UK businesses. "There’s no doubt though that the increase in cost of implementing and managing the changes will be a huge burden," he said. "It’s a tough economic time as it is, and more red tape means more money spent on having to keep up; not to mention the huge demands on human resources. It’s difficult to see if the benefits will match up to the burden."
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