The draft European Commission rules - snappily titled A Comprehensive Approach on Personal Data Protection in the European Union - imply the imposition of an online "right to be forgotten."
Such a dispensation would confer on EU citizens a legal right to demand that websites permanently delete already submitted personal data. The proposed rules also mandate that users give explicit consent before companies can use or process their personal data in any way. The mercifully brief (20-page) document also condemns website operators' current privacy policies as "opaque".
States EU Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding: "The protection of personal data is a fundamental right. To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data-protection rules. We also need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalization."
The proposal recommends giving consumers the right to sue companies for privacy breaches and also proposes criminal penalties.
The Commission, the EU's executive branch, will submit the proposal as legislation next year. It will then be debated and amended by EU members and the European Parliament before becoming law.
In the interim, expect frenzied lobbying from all interested parties - plus loud howls of transatlantic indignation!