Europe Warns Web Firms To Improve User Privacy Frameworks

imageThe European Commission’s consumer affairs commissioner has warned web companies they will have to play ball on internet privacy. Meglena Kuneva, speaking at a roundtable on data profiling and targeting in Brussels on Tuesday morning, said (transcript): “There is a clear need to reassert users’ trust by being more transparent about data collection activities. We need to generate awareness amongst consumers that their data is being traded, and establish certain possibilities for user control.

On the internet consumers are … paying for services with their personal data and their exposure to ads. This amounts to a new kind of commercial exchange contractually established by the privacy policy. We must require of privacy policies that they submit to the same fairness and transparency standards that are commonly accepted in commercial contracts.

“Behavioural targeting on the internet will become increasingly pervasive and consumers understandably feel uncomfortable … The current opt-out systems are partial, sometimes nowhere to be found, they are difficult or cumbersome and most of all, they are unstable. … Young people … use the internet in spite of the fact that they generally don’t trust it. Using internet under these conditions is like drinking your water while thinking it might be slightly toxic.” The Internet Advertising Bureau this month published guidelines designed to address consumer concerns.