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DATA NEWS: EU calls for tighter data regulation

The European Union is calling for tighter data protection in the UK to give internet users greater control over their personal data.

The rise in popularity of social media sites, Internet-enabled mobiles phones and behavioural advertising has created a need for a "shift of focus" according to EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. "Internet users must have effective control of what they put online and be able to correct, withdraw or delete it at will" she said.

In recent months Google and Facebook are just two Internet companies that have come under scrutiny for possible data privacy breaches.

Search engines Google, Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo have also been put under pressure to limit the amount of time they keep search records to no longer than six months.

"European regulators need to ensure that Internet users can trust online operators with their personal information," said Reding. "Operators of all online tools and services must be very clear that they are obliged to respect the fundamental right of protection of personal data."

Osborne Clarke data privacy specialist Phil Lee commented, "The Commission's exact proposals are not wholly clear at this stage but if, as seems to be the case, they are calling for greater regulatory overview of international data exports and mandatory private sector data audits, then these would radically alter the traditionally-held view that the UK has a business-friendly privacy regime. This could potentially usher in a new era of regulatory oversight in the UK at a significant cost and burden to business".