Europe's justice chief Viviane Reding called Thursday for new rules to give citizens more control of their online personal data, with the "right to be forgotten" from Facebook or Google.
Reding unveiled proposals to update a European Union rule on data protection that dates back to 1995, years before the proliferation of social networking websites and web search engines.
"The protection of personal data is a fundamental right," the European justice commissioner said.
"To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data protection rules. We also need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalisation," she said.
Her services want people to reclaim ownership of their digital imprint, including photographs, in an age when many users complain it is virtually impossible to avoid a permanent trace being left on mainframe computer servers the world over.
"People should be able to give their informed consent to the processing of their personal data, for example when surfing online, and should have the 'right to be forgotten' when their data is no longer needed or they want their data to be deleted," the European Commission said.
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