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What Europe’s Tough New Data Law Means
for You, and the Internet

LONDON — In a couple of weeks, Europe will introduce some of the toughest online privacy rules in the world. The changes are aimed at giving internet users more control over what’s collected and shared about them, and they punish companies that don’t comply.
Here’s what it means for you.

What Are the New Rules?
On May 25, a new law called the General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect across the European Union. The law strengthens individual privacy rights and, more important, it has teeth. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of global revenue — equivalent to about $1.6 billion for Facebook. The internet’s grand bargain has long been trading privacy for convenience. Businesses offer free services like email, entertainment and search, and in return they collect data and sell advertising. But recent privacy scandals involving Facebook and the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica highlight the downsides of that trade-off. The system is opaque and ripe for abuse.
Europe is attempting to push back.
It’s too early to know how effective the law will be, but it is being closely watched by governments globally.
What Are Your Rights?
Even if you don’t notice big changes, the new law provides important privacy rights worth knowing about.

For instance, you can ask companies what information they hold about you, and then request that it be deleted. This applies not just to tech companies, but also to banks, retailers, grocery stores or any other organization storing your information. You can even ask your employer.

And if you suspect your information is being misused or collected unnecessarily, you can complain to your national data protection regulator, which must investigate.

Of course, an individual going up against a giant corporation like Google or Facebook isn’t in a fair fight. The law has 11 chapters and 99 sub-articles, and just initiating a case can take as many as 20 steps, according to the International Association of Privacy Professionals, an industry trade group.
Read More

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