German Chancellor calls for greater data transparency by brands

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has added weight to calls for brands to be more transparent in their use of data, calling for a stricter, unified data protection laws across the European Union.  

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The German Chancellor came out this weekend advocating tougher data protection terms that would mean internet service providers – including Facebook and Google – would have to be clearer on how users’ data is stored and used.  

In a television interview Merkel is reported as saying Germany would take a “very strict position” on any such legislation adding companies such as Facebook need to be more transparent about their use of data.  

The statement was in relation to questions about proposed unified data protection laws in the wake of the recent PRISM scandal, which alleged that internet service providers handed over data on their users to intelligence authorities.  

The introduction of a pan-European data protection policy would mean internet service providers would also have to unify their data policies, which could also potentially restrict how marketers can target their online campaigns.  

Currently, companies such as Facebook and Google need only comply with data protection policies on a country-by-country basis across the EU, where laws vary greatly.  

For instance, data protection laws in the UK mean marketers are more at liberty to use data to hone their campaigns, compared to Germany where data protection laws are much stricter.  

Moves are already underway to better harmonise data protection laws across the 27 EU members states but this process is subject to much debate with many dissenting voices.  

A recent “compromise”, or ‘pro-business’, draft of the bill was proposed last month by the Irish presidency of the EU Council but some commentators argued that it was at complete loggerheads with earlier drafts.  

Among the proposals was the call for a directive as opposed to direct legislation, which would arguably make the process of online marketing easier for brands.  

The Direct Marketing Association earlier said that previous versions of the bill, which advocated a more harsher terms,  would be “disastrous” for business.

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