CookieLaw Blog June 21, 2011

US Not Outside the EU Cookie Law

European Commissioner Viviane Reding was in the UK this week and The Register secured an interview with her.

Reding is an advocate of consumer privacy, and although she was talking about privacy in a broader sense that the new cookie regulations, a lot of what she had to say will be interesting in terms of the direction the EU is heading.

She was particularly critical of Facebook, who we also highlighted as an example in our last post about third party cookies.  Although Facebook is not in breach of any current EU laws on data privacy – that situation may change.

The Commission is currently drafting a revision to privacy laws last changed in 1995, when the web was still nearly new.  One of the key principles of these new laws is ‘protection regardless of location’, meaning EU citizens data privacy rights will have to apply, regardless of the location of the organisation holding and processing that data.

Or in other words, if a US business like Facebook processes the data of EU citizens it will have to abide by the relevant legislation – and the EU will be looking to have the powers to enforce this.

Going back to the cookie regulations, we asked a representative of the ICO recently if businesses outside the EU, will be required to adhere to the regulations, in respect of EU customers.

The answer to that questions was ‘Yes’ – even if at the same time it was admitted that enforcement of that requirement would be problematic.

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