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New Digital Freedom Showdown As European Leaders Push Tough Internet Privacy Laws

The European Commission will unveil an arsenal of legislative measures aimed at harmonizing the E.U. countries’ various approaches to digital privacy protection. Among the new laws is a “right to forget” clause, guaranteeing people an “out” from services

New measures are being taken to protect Internet users' bank details (Bertrand Hauger)
New measures are being taken to protect Internet users' bank details (Bertrand Hauger)
Renaud Honore

PARIS -- Imagine the horror of seeing embarrassing photos of yourself making the rounds on the Internet, or, even worse, your bank details – out there for everyone to see. In an effort to better protect Europeans from just such a scenario, the European Commission is set present an arsenal of legislative measures on the subject during a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25.

"It is about reviewing the 1995 directive, which had one major fault: it opened the door to as many interpretations as there are member states in the European Union," explains a European official. "The objective is to harmonize these interpretations."

The office of Viviane Reding, the European Commission for Justice charged with the project, often cites Google Street View as an example. In setting up the service, the American giant collected a treasure trove of personal details. Some countries, including France, condemned it. Others didn't react at all.

Brussels has decided to completely review the 1995 directive, which will establish new rules to be applied across the continent. The Commission warns of "substantial consequences' – including fines of up to 1 million euros, or 5% of the turnover of the business concerned – for anyone found guilty of breaking the new privacy guidelines.

"Right to forget"

With its range of legislative measures, Brussels is targeting both businesses and individuals, who will be able to control how their personal details are used more easily. They will also have to give their explicit consent before their details can be used in other ways. For children under 13 years old, parents' permission will be required.

A "digital right-to-forget" will also be introduced. "The day you want to close your Facebook account, Facebook will be obliged to delete all your personal details," explains the European official. This right-to-forget will not apply to newspaper archives.

Individuals will also have the right to request a copy of their details if they want to pass them from one provider to another. Finally, individuals must be alerted within 24 hours if the security of their personal details is ever compromised. Brussels is making a clear attempt to prevent something like the ‘PlayStation" episode – where Sony took a week to let clients know that their bank card numbers had been stolen – from ever occurring again.

From a business point of view, companies will now have just one set of hoops to jump through: those of the country where their headquarters are based. Likewise, if details need to be exchanged between two subsidiaries of the same company, located in different countries, the authorisation of just one national body will suffice. The Commission estimates that the harmonization of the 27 different legislations currently in force will save the European economy 2.3 billion euros per year.

Read the original article in French

Photo – Bertrand Hauger

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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