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Europe More Serious Than The US About Online Privacy

There was news about how the Irish Data Commissioner had conducted an inquiry into the facial recognition software that is used by Facebook. This inquiry was a result of the complaint lodged with the Irish Data Commissioner from its member states, about how this software was posing a risk to the online privacy of its users. Following this inquiry, Facebook made an official announcement that the site would be discontinuing the use of facial recognition software on all its European users.

The same issue is valid worldwide, including the US . But even though the Electronic Information Privacy Center or the EPIC as it is popularly called, has lodged a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) about this, the complaint is still waiting to be processed and there is no communication on when it will be dealt with. This shows an apparent laxity that US citizens and officials have about online privacy. It is now only a matter of time before it comes back to haunt them.

‘Patchwork’ Of Laws Protecting Online Privacy

The major difference between online privacy enforcement in the US and Europe is the laws that govern it. While there are a number of laws which are not effectively compiled to  ensure that matters regarding online privacy are dealt with effectively, in Europe, the Data Protection Directive is the bible of online privacy protection. This law book or a bill, provides all the member nations with a basic framework of how online privacy must be enforced and maintained.

It also has sections that guide the member nations on dealing with issues relating to online privacy. A noticeable fact in all these laws is that the end user or the citizen has a measure of control and a sense of direction on how to go about if his/her online privacy is compromised. That is very unlike the US where citizens have to go through elaborate procedures to file a report in  case of a breach in their online privacy.

European Regulations Set To Become More Robust

To make the online privacy regulations even more stringent, there is a proposed amendment in the online privacy law. According to the reports, the newly proposed regulation will empower the citizens more by forming laws that are above the national jurisdiction. This will mean that all the companies that are directly or indirectly processing the data of European nationals will be included under the law and in case there is any irregularity, they are answerable to the authorities.

Another important factor that will ensure that the companies are extremely careful while processing the data from EU zone is the penalty that can be imposed. The law states that you can impose up to a 2% portion of the global revenue of the offending companies, if proved guilty, as a penalty.

Recently, Google paid a penalty of five hours of its revenue that was imposed by the Federal trade commission. If the penalty was handed out by the Euro zone laws, then it would have amounted to 175 hours of revenue.

Americans As Worried As Europeans About Their Online Privacy

A recent study by the European Commission showed that more than 70% of the people in Europe are worried about their online privacy. Similarly, American Life Project, a survey, showed that 73% of Americans are also worried about online privacy. This shows that people want to shop without being tracked, or browse without being targeted. Only the authorities are not too bothered about beefing up the rules that govern online privacy issues. It is high time that things are set right or there will be a lot of unevenness in the systems of US and EU zones.

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