It only appeared briefly in some blogs, but last week a draft of the new European Data Protection Directive was leaked in the press. This signals a new episode in the fight between the purist approach of the European Commission and the more relaxed attitude towards data protection held by the US.

If this legislation is passed in Europe, it will result in drastic changes to the data collection models of many big companies, especially those of big US-based data processors like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

What are the biggest changes EU marketers should expect?

  • All marketing initiatives will become opt-in
  • Explicit permission will be necessary for all forms of direct marketing, telemarketing and online (behavioural) advertising
  • Explicit permission will also be required to collect data that can be used to identify a person, including IP-addresses, cookies and geo-data!
  • Google, Facebook and Twitter will need to inform their European users of all the data they collect.  “God forgives and forgets, but the Internet never does,” said Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner. Concretely, this would mean that every organization could be asked to erase the public data of any “link to, copy of, or replication of the personal data relating to the data subject”.

A similar legal battle is currently taking place between Facebook and Max Schrems, a 22-year-old Austrian law student. Schrems is suing the social network for violating privacy laws, in particular, for storing data that is deleted by users and for creating shadow profiles for both users and nonusers without permission.

Documentary style videos, like this one, that depict Facebook to be a KGB-like digital organization seem pretty hilarious at first. Nevertheless, I think that they are damn right. Why should Facebook need to store data that I’ve deleted? If I want to ignore friend requests or view someone’s profile 87 times per week than so be it. It’s my business and it definitely doesn’t need to be stored by Facebook for safekeeping.

It is our obligation to support legislation that gives users more power and restricts the reach of overly intrusive marketers. Don’t mess with our Internet!