EU lawmakers look to limit Internet firms selling user data for ads

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Internet giants, such as Facebook and Google, may be forced to request further permission for data use from users if new laws to on data protection get approved.

Lawmakers in the European Union are looking to limit firms from using and selling data to advertising companies.

Companies like Facebook and Google often sell the data they receive, including details on browsing habits, to advertisers looking to use the hugely popular services for Internet marketing purposes.

With Facebook boasting over one billion members, and Google generating multiple millions of searches a day - the services provide many revenue opportunities for both the companies themselves, and firms using the platforms to place advertisements.

However, Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German member of the European parliament, has announced plans to empower users to control how their data is then sold on to advertising companies.

Albrecht, said: "Users must be informed about what happens with their data.

"And they must be able to consciously agree to data processing - or reject it."

He also proposed that users should be free to move information from one platform to another and be able to access what data these firms already have on them, free of charge.

The 27 member states of the European parliament and the commission will look to thrash out an agreement in regards to any new rules in the next few months.

However, many Internet companies are worried about the effects changes could have on business.

Facebook's head of EU policy, Erika Mann, said: "We are concerned that some aspects of the report do not support a flourishing European digital single market and the reality of innovation on the internet."

This is not the first time that Facebook has found itself under pressure from European nations in regards to user data, with Germany in particular pushing through a number of changes.

In 2011, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein issued a ban against firms using likes - claiming it allowed the site to monitor users.

Earlier this week, the data protection commissioner for Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weichert, also threatened to fine Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a sum of £16,000 - if the site refused to allow Germans to use anonymous accounts.

In Germany, media services like Facebook, are obliged to offer users the option of a pseudonym, as opposed to their real name - something which Facebook has argued is detrimental to its service.

At present, the largest fine by an EU privacy regulator was handed out to Google by the French authorities back in 2011. The $131,000 fine was imposed on the search giant due to its unauthorised collection of personal data through its Street View service.

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