Using Personal Information Like Money? Not So Fast, the EU Privacy Adviser Warns


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Hey, buddy, want to trade me your personal data for access to EU Skateboarder Fails Vol. 25? No way that’s legal, says the European Union’s top privacy adviser.

The EU needs to avoid any laws that allow people to pay for digital content with their personal information instead of money, the European Data Protection Supervisor warned.

“Personal data cannot be compared to a price, or money,” the EDPS said. “Personal information is related to a fundamental right and cannot be considered as a commodity.”

What has the EDPS concerned is a proposed Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content that is intended to create a single set of rules covering contracts for the sale and renting of digital content and digital services. Digital contracts under the directive would require that the consumer to pay a monetary price, or “actively provide personal data or other data as counter-performance.”

EDPS Giovanni Butarelli said the proposed directive’s aim to “provide for a harmonized protection of the consumers so far as digital data is concerned” is worthwhile, but not if it unintentionally interferes with EU privacy rights, such as those set down in the EU General Data Protection Regulation that will establish the EU’s new privacy regime in May 2018.

The EU must be careful to avoid upsetting “the careful balance” between privacy and the free flow of information negotiated in coming up with the new privacy regime.

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