How safe is your personal data online? German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht is currently steering a proposal to beef up existing EU data protection rules through Parliament, which will put people back in control of their own information. He revealed more details on what's coming up during a chat with our Facebook fans on 22 May and even gave participants practical tips on how to protect themselves against abuse of their personal data.
Mr Albrecht initially had reservations about taking part in the chat. He explained: " I was at first very open to take part but then I realised that Facebook demands every participant to make available all his profile information including the list of friends. This is an example of how data protection is not meant to be."
In response to a complaint that current data protection rules are often too cryptic and complicated for ordinary people, Mr Albrecht responded: "We are planning to introduce simple standardised icons to explain what the data protection terms of a company mean. If you need more information you will be still allowed to read the written terms, which we are demanding to be simple, unambiguous and clear."
One Facebook fan asked if the drive towards more privacy could interfere with the need for more economic growth. Mr Albrecht said the updated rules would also benefit companies: "We will not overburden anyone but mainly follow the existing laws and better enforce them. This would be of huge benefit to EU companies now disadvantaged by companies coming from the outside on the EU market."
There was also a question on whether information revealed through social media was safe. Mr Albrecht said: "Of course everybody should be free to use all services. I myself use Facebook and LinkdIn for example. But you should have the right to be informed about the data processed on you and to delete or correct them."
He also gave out practical information on matters such as how to deal with online service providers that ask for too much information: "There are many service providers who demand personal data, which are not at all necessary for the service. Either you search for a service not demanding them or you should look if it is possible to not provide those data or provide pseudonyms."